The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

if he sweats. Jackson intervened. who had shown signs of finishing it." "Considering there are eight old colours left. "I bet he gets in before you. He was a sound bat." This was mere stereo. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. In face. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. That's one comfort. "Hullo." she muttered truculently through it. This year it should be all right. His third remark was of a practical nature. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. he was curiously like his brother Joe. He might get his third. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. Mike was her special ally. Marjory. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket." was his reference to the sponge incident. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. Bob disdained to reply. and the missing member of the family appeared. "Go on with your breakfast. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her." he said. you little beast. Mrs. but preferred him at a distance. Marjory gave tongue again." The aspersion stung Marjory." Bob was in Donaldson's. Last year he had been tried once or twice. "Anyhow. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. ." she said. His figure was thin and wiry."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. anyway. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn." said Bob loftily. The door opened. He was fond of him in the abstract. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. I bet he does. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season." she said." "We aren't in the same house. Marjory. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. "All right. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. "sorry I'm late.

Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man." groaned Bob. It was a great moment. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. suddenly drew a long breath. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. Mike Wryky."I say." "Oh. the professional. in six-eight time. like Mike. Mike looked round the table." "Is he. "I say. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. aged three. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. sound article. you're going to Wrykyn next term. as follows: "Mike Wryky. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds." From Ella. obliged with a solo of her own composition. "All the boys were there. But he was not a cricket genius. So was father. Jackson believed in private coaching. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. "Good. The strength could only come with years." began Mr. Mike put on his pads. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. Whereat Gladys Maud. you're going to Wrykyn." she said. what's under that dish?" "Mike. "Mike. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon." shouted Marjory. was engaged in putting up the net. Mike was his special favourite. ages ago. with improvements. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. Joe's style. Saunders. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. put a green baize cloth over that kid. Gladys Maud Evangeline. There was nothing the matter with Bob. but the style was there already. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. you know. and every spring since Joe. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term." From Phyllis. Saunders. Mr. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow." he said. "Mike. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . "Mike. In Bob he would turn out a good. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. assisted by the gardener's boy. the eldest of the family. somebody.

isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term." As Saunders had said. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. There's a young gentleman. and that's where the runs come in." "Yes. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. too. perhaps. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. It's all there. with Master Mike. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. miss. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. you see. "Next term!" he said. we'll hope for the best. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. It's quite likely that it will." said the professional. Saunders. and nineteen perhaps. Going to a public school. miss. I don't. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. It would be a record if he did. The whole thing is. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife." "But Mike's jolly strong. He's got as much style as Mr. in a manner of speaking. I was only saying don't count on it. every bit. Ready. Saunders?" she asked. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. isn't he? He's better than Bob. only all I say is don't count on it. he was playing more strongly than usual. That's what he'll be playing for. miss. didn't he. miss. but I meant next term. I'm not saying it mightn't be. it's this way. miss. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. you see. Joe's got. Saunders? He's awfully good. it was all there. Master Mike? Play. "He hit that hard enough. To-day. as she returned the ball. "Well."School team. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. a sort of pageant. especially at . Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. and watched more hopefully." Saunders looked a little doubtful. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. What are they like?" "Well. miss. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. Don't you think he might. You know these school professionals." Marjory sat down again beside the net. Still." "No." "Ah. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. and it stands to reason they're stronger. "If he could keep on doing ones like that.

The air was full of last messages. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. the train drew up at a small station. And as Marjory. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. was on the verge of the first eleven. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. It might be true that some day he would play for England. While he was engaged on these reflections. though evidently some years older. Phyllis. and his reflections. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. He had a sharp face. Mr. He wore a bowler hat. The train gathered speed. frankly bored with the whole business. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. was to board the train at East Wobsley. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. Meanwhile. by all accounts. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. and carried a small . smiling vaguely. On the other hand. however. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. is no great hardship. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school.the beginning of the summer term. He was excited. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. and he was nothing special. his magazines. Donaldson's. but then Bob only recognised one house. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. with rather a prominent nose. Mothers. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. and Mrs. nor profound. Bob. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. the village idiot. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. there was Bob. He was alone in the carriage. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. in his opinion. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. in time to come down with a handsome tip). According to Bob they had no earthly. Gladys Maud cried. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. Bob. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. and now the thing had come about. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. The latter were not numerous. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived.

then. stared at Mike again. after all. The fellow had forgotten his bag. and wondered if he wanted anything." said Mike to himself. the bag had better be returned at once. "Porter. and took the seat opposite to Mike. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform.portmanteau. lying snugly in the rack. Besides. which is always fatal. I regret to say." "Thank you. Anyhow. you know. He seemed about to make some remark. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. He did not like the looks of him particularly. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. but. instead. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. "Good business. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read." "Here you are. The other made no overtures. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. sir. thought Mike. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. The trainwas already moving quite fast." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. and at the next stop got out. sir. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property." "No chance of that. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. Mike acted from the best motives. He opened the door. Judging by appearances. let him ask for it." "Because. He was only travelling a short way. but. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. he seemed to carry enough side for three. sir. And here. got up and looked through the open window. He realised in an instant what had happened. and finally sat down. ." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. If he wanted a magazine. That explained his magazineless condition.

" said Mike hurriedly. escaped with a flesh wound. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. Then it ceased abruptly. and said as much." The guard blew his whistle. looking out of the window. and. The head was surmounted by a bowler. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. which did not occur for a good many miles. This was one of them. What you want is a frightful kicking. Mike grinned at the recollection. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. or what?" "No. "I'm awfully sorry. "I chucked it out. It hit a porter." Against his will." said Mike. "The fact is. "Have you changed carriages. you little beast. "There's nothing to laugh at. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window." said Mike." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform." The situation was becoming difficult. "Hullo." said the stranger. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. dash it. "Then. . though not intentionally so. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. and the other jumped into the carriage. who happened to be in the line of fire." "It wasn't that." he shouted. "I thought you'd got out there for good. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. I say. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. "Don't _grin_. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage." explained Mike.(Porter Robinson." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow.

are you in Wain's?" he said. it's a bit thick. Bob. "I swear. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. I should rot about like anything." "Oh. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. "Oh. "I've made rather an ass of myself. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. and all that sort of thing. Gazeka?" "Yes." said Bob. He's in your house. if I were in Wyatt's place. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. Good cricketer and footballer. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency." "I mean." "Oh." "Naturally. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. It's just the sort . "I say." said Bob. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. "He and Wain never get on very well. "Hullo. thinking he'd got out. and it's at a station miles back. I mean. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. only he hadn't really. Mike. listening the while. They were discussing Wain's now. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. what happened was this. and yet they have to be together. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. all the same." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. there you are. never mind. I say. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. "It must be pretty rotten for him." "Frightful. His eye fell upon Mike's companion." said Mike. though not aggressive. He realised that school politics were being talked. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. He grinned again. it's all right. rather lucky you've met. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt."Hullo. then it's certain to be all right." "Frightful nuisance. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. By the way. Lots of things in it I wanted. They'll send it on by the next train. He took up his magazine again." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term." "You're a bit of a rotter. holidays as well as term. It's bound to turn up some time. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank." agreed Firby-Smith.

Plainly a Wrykynian." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. But here they were alone. and tell you all about things. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. Probably Wain will want to see you. It was Wrykyn at last. Mike made for him. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. and it's the only Christian train they run. has no perplexities. with a happy inspiration. "Heaps of them must come by this line. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. and so on. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. on alighting. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. . The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. They'll send your luggage on later. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers.of life he'll hate most. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. it is simplicity itself. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. and looked about him. and. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. a blue blazer. So long. leaving him to find his way for himself. Silly idea." Mike looked out of the window. Hullo. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do." he concluded airily. Go in which direction he would. To the man who knows. Go straight on. which is your dorm." he said. and a straw hat with a coloured band." Bob looked at Mike. See you later. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. I think you'd better nip up to the school. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea." he said. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. here we are. and lost his way. Mike. all more or less straight. Mike started out boldly. Crossing the square was a short. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this.

" He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. this is fame. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "That's pretty useful. please." "Oh." said Mike awkwardly. He's in Donaldson's. You can't quite raise a team. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. Any more centuries?" "Yes." said the other." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. How did you know my name. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's." said Mike. "You look rather lost. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. "It was only against kids. square-jawed face. So you're the newest make of Jackson. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. are you Wyatt. You know. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease." added Mike modestly. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. A stout fellow." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. There's no close season for me. then?" asked Mike." said Mike. you're going to the school. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. "Oh. "How many?" "Seven altogether." said Mike."Can you tell me the way to the school. it was really awfully rotten bowling. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. you know. He had a pleasant." "Are you there. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. And . latest model. you know." said the stranger. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. shuffling. "Hullo." he said. Only a private school. "Pity. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. He felt that they saw the humour in things. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train." "I know.

the grounds. I was just going to have some tea. That's his. We all have our troubles." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school." said Mike cautiously. He felt out of the picture." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. "I say." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at." said Mike. answering for himself." "All the same. a shade too narrow . And my pater always has a pro. He's head of Wain's. where. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. thanks awfully. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. Everything looked so big--the buildings. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. "That's Wain's. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps." said Wyatt. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. I know. They skirted the cricket field. Look here. cut out of the hill. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term." said Mike. and took in the size of his new home. I believe." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. We shall want some batting in the house this term. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. though no games were played on it. everything." "Oh. which gave me a bit of an advantage. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. "He's all right. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. a beautiful piece of turf. it's jolly big. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. The next terrace was the biggest of all. Mike followed his finger. He was glad that he had met Wyatt.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. At Emsworth. down in the Easter holidays." he said." "Yes. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. too. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. At the top of the hill came the school. Let's go in here. You come along. but that's his misfortune." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke." said Wyatt.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

"Well. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. He was older than the average new boy. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. As a rule. to give him good advice. "Thanks. "Oh. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be." said Mike. at school. when they met. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. Bob was changing into his cricket things. "Oh. It did not make him conceited. all right. and his batting was undeniable. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. and his conscience smote him. Beyond asking him occasionally. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit." . He only knew that he had received a letter from home. it is apt to throw us off our balance. Mike had skipped these years. There is nothing more heady than success. but Bob did not know this. if only for one performance." "Cake?" "Thanks. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. "Sugar?" asked Bob. "How many lumps?" "Two. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. Silence. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. Mike arrived." said Mike. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. all right").CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. please. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls.

"Like Wain's?" "Ripping. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. You know." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. Jackson. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. "Yes?" said Mike coldly.Silence. outraged. "It's only this. Only you see what I mean." said Mike cautiously. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. I'm not saying a word against you so far. and spoke crushingly. Bob pulled himself together." "What do you mean?" said Mike. thanks. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good." added Bob. What I mean to say is. making things worse. you've got on so well at cricket." he said at length. "Yes." said Bob. "What!" said Mike. I should take care what . There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. Mike. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. while Bob." he said. "I shouldn't--I mean." said Mike. in the third and so on. of course. "You know. "Like him?" "Yes." said Bob. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. if you don't watch yourself. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake." he said. "You've been all right up to now. Look after him! Him!! M. "He said he'd look after you. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. filled his cup. I'm not saying anything against you so far." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. "I can look after myself all right." said Bob. "Oh. "He needn't trouble." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "Look here.

"You're a frightful character from all accounts. he's an awfully good chap. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. met Mike at the door of Wain's." Mike shuffled. I mean. A good innings at the third eleven net." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots're doing with Wyatt." said the Gazeka. He doesn't care a hang what he does." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. But don't let him drag you into anything. so said nothing. "Ah. "I promised I would. though. it doesn't matter much for him. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. That youth. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. if you want any more tea. Stick on here a bit. I've got to be off myself. But don't you go doing it. all spectacles and front teeth. He's that sort of chap. I'm going over to the nets. spoke again. Thing is. Not that he would try to. young man. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. Don't make a frightful row in the house. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. I wanted to see you. He's never been dropped on yet. You'd better be going and changing. "I've been hearing all about you. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody.") "Come up to my study. He felt very sore against Bob. (Mike disliked being called "young man. Don't cheek your . See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. of course. "All right. because he's leaving at the end of the term. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later." Mike followed him in silence to his study." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. young man. but still----" "Still what?" "Well." "What do you mean?" "Well. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you." he said. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. "What rot!" said Mike. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith.

* * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. of wanting to do something actively illegal. Cut along. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. he burned." said Wyatt." "Are you going out?" "I am." said Wyatt. you stay where you are. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. would just have suited Mike's mood. increased. He opened his eyes. That's all. wriggled out. but he had never felt wider awake. He got out of bed and went to the window." he said. but it was not so easy to do it. Wash." "I say. you can't. He sat up in bed. but with rage and all that sort of thing. Mustn't miss a chance like this. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. Like Eric. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. as I'm morally certain to be some day. just the sort of night on which. The room was almost light. and up to his dormitory to change. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. I shall be deadly. and hitting it into space every time. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. So long. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. but he . Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. not with shame and remorse. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl." And Wyatt. if he had been at home. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. Overcoming this feeling. Anyhow. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. It was a lovely night." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. too. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. Specially as there's a good moon. with or without an air-pistol. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. and the second time he gave up the struggle. You'll find that useful when the time comes. he walked out of the room. "No. or night rather. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. "Is that you. He would have given much to be with him. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock.elders and betters. by a slight sound." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. "Hullo. "When I'm caught.

After which. feeling a new man. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection."_ Mike stood and drained it in. wound the machine up. and an apple. along the passage to the left. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. and set it going. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. perhaps. Mr. as indeed he was. Field). The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand.. The next moment. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. Food. Then a beautiful.realised that he was on parole. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. There were the remains of supper on the table. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. one leading into Wain's part of the house. And this was where the trouble began. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. the other into the boys' section. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Down the stairs. _". it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. then. very loud and nasal. This was Life. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. turning up the incandescent light. Everybody would be in bed. and there was an end of it. He finished it. Field actually did so. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. Wain's. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. consoling thought came to him. A voice accompanied the banging. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. The soda-water may have got into his head. Mr." And. It was quite late now. feeling that he was doing himself well. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. after a few preliminary chords.. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. He was not alarmed. Mike recognised it as Mr. To make himself more secure he locked that door. All thought of risk left him. As it swished into the glass. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. he proceeded to look about him. It would be quite safe. He had promised not to leave the house. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . He took some more biscuits. he examined the room.

Two minutes later he was in bed. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. and get caught. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. The handle-rattling was resumed. "Now what. "would A. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. This was good. that if Mr. If. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. but he must not overdo the thing. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. "He'd clear out. and could get away by the other. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. and reflected. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. Evidently his . Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. he must keep Mr. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. He stopped the gramophone. Then he began to be equal to it. Wain from coming to the dormitory. He jumped out of bed. though it was not likely." pondered Mike." thought Mike. and warn Wyatt. He lay there. And at the same time. he opened the window. His position was impregnable. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house.need to be alarmed. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. Wain. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. suspicion would be diverted." The answer was simple. was that he must get into the garden somehow. and he sat up. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. on the other hand. The main point. just in time. the most exciting episode of his life. J. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. on entering the room. to date. and he'd locked one door. and dashed down the dark stairs. It was open now. breathless. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. and found that they were after him. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. the kernel of the whole thing. It had occurred to him. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape.

He looked about him. sir. drew inspiration from it. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. "I think there must have been a burglar in here." said Mr. I don't know why I asked." said Mike. and.retreat had been made just in time. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown." "A noise?" "A row. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. catching sight of the gramophone. sir!" said Mike. He wore spectacles." "I found the window open. Mr. sir. His hair was ruffled. Mike. "_Me_. of course not." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. Mr. a row." If it was Mr. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. sir. He spun round at the knock. could barely check a laugh. "Of course not. sir. looking out. He looked like some weird bird. Wain hurriedly. All this is very unsettling. "Please. in spite of his anxiety. He knocked at the door. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. Wain. Jackson. sir." said Mike. I thought I heard a noise. Mr. Wain was a tall. "Thought I heard a noise." . and went in. Wain continued to stare." "Looks like it. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. sir. thin man. "Of course not. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard." "A noise?" "Please. sir. please. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. Wain was standing at the window. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. please. "So I came down.

Jackson. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. He ran to the window." said Wyatt. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right." said Mr. sir. sir. An inarticulate protest from Mr. "You young ass. and vaulted through it on to the lawn." Mr. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly."He's probably in the garden." "Perhaps you are right. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. There might be a bit of a row on his return. and hit Mike smartly over the shins." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. sir." cried Mike." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. Wain. _"Et tu." Mr. "Who on earth's that?" it said. ruminatively. sir. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. The moon had gone behind the clouds. then tore for the regions at the back. Wain looked at the shrubbery. you might . "Not likely. I mean. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression." "Yes. His knees were covered with mould. I know. "He might be still in the house. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. Mike stopped. "Is that you. eliciting sharp howls of pain. He felt that all was well. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. as who should say. sir. Wain. such an ass. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again.

" "Yes. All right. Wain was still in the dining-room. you might come down too." said Mr. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. but I turned on the gramophone." Mike clambered through the window. It is exceedingly impertinent of you." "That's not a bad idea. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. I will not have it. "But how the dickens did he hear you. "Undoubtedly so. You will do me two hundred lines. sir. standing outside with his hands on the sill." Mr. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. Latin and English. He must have got out of the garden. it was rather a rotten thing to do." he said. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird." "It wasn't that." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. I'll get back. "You're a genius. and I'll go back to the dining-room." "Undoubtedly. sir. you see. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. "It's miles from his bedroom. but you don't understand. if you like. Exceedingly so. Well." "Please. sir. so excited. Exceedingly so" . Or. I will not have it. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. "You have no business to be excited. It was very wrong of you to search for him. You must tread like a policeman. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. Have you no sense. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please." said Mike. Come in at once. I suppose. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. Wain. You dash along then. The thing was. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold.' Ripping it was. till Wain came least have the sense to walk quietly. "I never saw such a man." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. You have been seriously injured." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. come in. "I couldn't find him. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course.

I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. Jackson? James. In these circumstances." he said excitedly.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. He loved to sit in this attitude. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. "I thought I heard a noise. . You hear me. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. watching some one else work. "only he has got away. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. Inordinately so. Wain into active eruption once more." said Mike." "Shall I go out into the garden. preparatory to going on the river. He yawned before he spoke. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. hanging over space. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident." he said." said Mike. James--and you. Both of you go to bed immediately. you understand me? To bed at once." he said. "I was under the impression. sir. Clowes was on the window-sill. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. "We might catch him. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. James. And. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. sir?" said Wyatt. Mr. the other outside. sir. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. Wain "father" in private. The question stung Mr. It is preposterous. getting tea ready." They made it so. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. one leg in the room. "Stay where you are. He called Mr. "sir" in public. you will both be punished with extreme severity. of Donaldson's. I will not have boys running about my garden at night." "But the burglar. "Under no circumstances whatever. I must be obeyed instantly. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. At least Trevor was in the study. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. and have a look round.

Did I want them spread about the school? No. 'Good chap. where is he? Among the also-rans. Trevor.' At least. Couple of years younger than me. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. I did not. I lodged a protest." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. "All right. as our old pal Nero used to remark.' I say. but can't think of Life. we see my brother two terms ago." said Trevor." "See it done. you'd have let your people send him here. Where is he? Your brother. "Come and help. Tigellinus." "Too busy. Consider it unsaid. 'and he's all right." "My lad. I have a brother myself. I should think. Like the heroes of the school stories." said Clowes. I often say to people." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded.'" "You were right there." said Trevor. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. "I said. Trevor." "Marlborough. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. Trevor was shorter." "Silly ass." "That shows your sense. Better order it to-day. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. Clowes was tall. laddie.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. My people wanted to send him here. I say. you slacker. which he was not. Trevor?" "One." "My mind at the moment. slicing bread. I said. I'm thinking of Life. and very much in earnest over all that he did. I mean. Hence." breathed Trevor. Not a bad chap in his way. Aged fifteen. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. If you'd been a silly ass." said Clowes.' That's what I say. But when it comes to deep thought. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. and looked sad. That's a thing you couldn't do. "One for the pot. two excess." "You aren't doing a stroke. Have you got any brothers. I suppose it's fun to him. Cheek's what I call it. packing . "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. 'One Clowes is luxury. There are stories about me which only my brother knows.

he is. My heart bleeds for Bob. he returned to his subject. and he's very decent. with an unstained reputation. however. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him." he said. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. but while they're there. which is what I should do myself. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. which he might easily do. At present. For once in your life you've touched the spot." "What a rotten argument." said Trevor. And here am I at Wrykyn. I've talked to him several times at the nets." "Young Jackson seems all right. who looks on him as no sportsman. courted by boys. perhaps. naturally. revered by all who don't. In other words. Bob seems to be trying the first way. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. considering his cricket. it's the limit. You say Jackson's all right. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid.up his little box. We were on the subject of brothers at school. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. so he broods over him like a policeman. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod." "Jackson's all right. I suppose. It's all right. It's just the one used by chaps' people." "What's up? Does he rag?" . as I said. fawned upon by masters." "Why?" "Well. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. "Mr. If I frown----" "Oh. so far. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. but." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. the term's only just started. Now. It's the masters you've got to consider." "Well?" "Look here. But the term's hardly started yet. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. loved by all who know me. and tooling off to Rugby. It may be all right after they're left. What's wrong with him? Besides. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here." "That's just it. At the end of that period. too. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. come on.

" "I know. and which is bound to make rows between them. he's on the spot. I shouldn't think so. and. that he'll be roped into it too. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. It's nothing to do with us. One always sees him about on half-holidays."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. and does them. it's the boot every time. tell the Gazeka. Still. The odds are. He's head of Wain's." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. unless he leaves before it comes off. Well." "Yes. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. every other night. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. walking back to the house. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. But what's the good of worrying. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. For instance. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. You'd only make him do the policeman business." "He never seems to be in extra. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own." "All front teeth and side. He's asking for trouble. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on." "The Gazeka is a fool. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for." Trevor looked disturbed. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. Let's stagger out. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. Besides. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. And if you're caught at that game. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. . too. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. if Jackson's so thick with him. which he hasn't time for. however. anyhow. Better leave him alone. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation." "If you must tell anybody." "I don't know.

What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. J." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. oiling a bat. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. Bob." said Bob." "Oh." "That's all right then." "Don't blame him." he said. sitting up. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would." "I've done that. I think. you did? That's all right." "Oh. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. I hear. then. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. though." "Not a bit. He'd have more chance." "Oh. "That reminds me. I think I'll speak to him again. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. but. "look here." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. by Jove. all right. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. I meant the one here. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Nor do I." "I should. bewildered. Why?" "It's this way. That's his look out. Are you busy?" "No. I say. I spoke to him about it. "I say. Rather rot. W." "I know. It's his last.He found him in his study. I forgot to get the evening paper. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too." . Well?" "About your brother." "I should get blamed. "My brother. I didn't mean that brother. being in the same house. Smith said he'd speak to him. If Wyatt likes to risk it. you know. that I know of. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor.

W. it's not been chucked away. . he thinks. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. I suppose he'll get his first next year. Henfrey'll be captain. and there falls on you from space one big drop." "Well. Better than J. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. even. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn.s." He went back to his study. You were rather in form. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. And. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. to coach you in the holidays. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. Mr. I asked him what he thought of me. Bob. "I thought I heard it go. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. and had beaten them. I was away a lot. though. and you are standing in a shower-bath. and he said. W. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. and Bob. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. and 51." "Hope so. It is just the same with a row. when they meet." "Better than at the beginning of the term. anyhow. I expect. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. The next moment the thing has begun. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. 18. when suddenly there is a hush." said Trevor. I simply couldn't do a thing then. Some trivial episode occurs. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. don't you?" "Yes. Pretty good for his first term. started on his Thucydides." "Yes." "Sort of infant prodigy.' There's a subtle difference.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days." "Saunders. for years. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. the pro. I didn't go to him much this last time. You have a pro. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. Nearly all the first are leaving. at home.

Low down.W. There's a dinner after the matches on O. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. The thing had happened after this fashion. "MIKE. So I didn't go in. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. lengthened by speeches.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. He was run out after he'd got ten. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G.W. songs. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. Love to everybody. only they bar one another) told me about it. as a . but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. Rather rot. I wasn't in it." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. and Spence).P. I had to dive for it. I hope you are quite well. could you? I'm rather broke. on the back of the envelope. They stop the cricket on O. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two.--Thanks awfully for your letter. Rather decent. and there was rather a row. together with the school choir. and 30 in a form match. On the Monday they were public property.--Half-a-crown would do. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. but didn't do much. He's Wain's step-son. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. Jones. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. and half the chaps are acting. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town.W. only I'd rather it was five bob.S. because I didn't get an innings. He was in it all right.S. Rot I call it. Bob played for the first.--I say. "P. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. I didn't do much. the Surrey man. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. so we stop from lunch to four. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. Still. because they won the toss and made 215. B. only I don't quite know where he comes in. I believe he's rather sick about it. so I played. "Your loving son." And. day. and I got bowled). I may get another shot. The banquet. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. lasted. "P. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket.

The school was always anxious for a row. brainless. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. and had been the custom for generations back. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. the town. and Wrykyn. as usual. one's views are apt to alter. the town. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. it was not considered worth it. show a tendency to dwindle. as a rule. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. accordingly. It was the custom. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. Words can be overlooked. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. But tomatoes cannot. Risks which before supper seemed great. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. When. and the authorities. In the present crisis. the school. But there were others. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. This was the official programme. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. Wrykyn. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. About midway between Wrykyn. in the midst of their festivities. rural type of hooliganism. . which they used. all might yet have been peace. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. therefore. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack.rule. till about ten o'clock. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. and that the criticisms were. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. Possibly. and then race back to their houses. and turn in. As a rule. essentially candid and personal. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. for the honour of the school. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. and.

They were smarting under a sense of injury. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. Gloomy in the daytime. By the side of the road at this point was a green. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. now in a solid mass. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. but two remained. It raged up and down the road without a pause. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. But. and the procession had halted on the brink. it was no time for science. "Let's chuck 'em in there. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. Wyatt." he said. The science was on the side of the school. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. of whose presence you had no idea. except the prisoners." he said quietly. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. and stampeded as one man. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. It struck Wyatt. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. when a new voice made itself heard. "Now then. it looked unspeakable at night. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. Barely a dozen remained. and then kicks your shins. . "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. while some dear friend of his. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see.There was a moment of suspense. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town." it said. for they suddenly gave the fight up. now splitting up into little groups. A move was made towards the pond. panting. at any rate at first. He very seldom lost his temper. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. depressed looking pond. The leaders were beyond recall.

or you'll go typhoid. going in second. "Ho. understanding but dimly. That's what we are. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. Butt." said Mr. "Make 'em leave hold of us." "Ho!" said the policeman. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. and a splash compared with which . Carry on. whoever you are. are they? Come now. and vanished. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. Butt. He'll have churned up a bit. a cheer from the launching party. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. "All right. and seized the captive by the arm." said Wyatt. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. I expect there are leeches and things there."What's all this?" "It's all right. a yell from the policeman." "I don't want none of your lip." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. you chaps." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. Constable Butt. "You run along on your beat. but if out quick they may not get on to you. Don't swallow more than you can help." "Stop!" From Mr. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. "This is quite a private matter." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. A howl from the townee. You can't do anything here. but you ought to know where to stop. with a change in his voice. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. it's an execution. and suspecting impudence by instinct. The policeman realised his peril too late. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. The prisoner did. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. scrambled out. young gentleman. a lark's a lark. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it." said Wyatt. Mr. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. This isn't a lark. Butt." "It's anything but a lark. sprang forward. you chaps. He ploughed his way to the bank.

calling upon the headmaster. with others. Police Constable Alfred Butt. and the interested neighbours are following their example. I shall--certainly----" . Butt gave free rein to it. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. Mr. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. Butt. went to look for the thrower. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. Following the chain of events. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. Wyatt. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. The imagination of the force is proverbial. and. with a certain sad relish.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. It was no occasion for light apologies. _Plop_!" said Mr. and "with them. sir. and throws away the match. Butt fierce and revengeful. they did. before any one can realise what is happening." "Threw you in!" "Yes. having prudently changed his clothes. sir. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. we find Mr. "Threw me in. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so)." said Wyatt. "Really. Mr. but in the present case. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. really!" said the headmaster. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. Yes. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. "Do you know.the first had been as nothing. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. Butt. The tomato hit Wyatt. sheets of fire are racing over the country. and all was over." as they say in the courts of law. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. it has become world-famous. sir. but both comparisons may stand. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint.

according to discretion.' I says. Good-night. Mr." "H'm--Well. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. and fighting." "Yes.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. and I couldn't see not to say properly. I wonder?' I says. right from the beginning. "How many boys were there?" he asked. sir. sir. Wringin' wet." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist." The headmaster's frown deepened. They shall be punished. sir. They actually seized you. beginning to suspect something." said Mr. She says to me. again with the confidential air. 'Why." he added. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. Lots of them all gathered together. 'a frakkus.' And. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. sir." "Good-night." concluded Mr. Butt started it again. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood.' And. sir. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir. with the air of one confiding a secret. sir!" said the policeman. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. I can hardly believe that it is possible. too. and I thought I heard a disturbance. "Couple of 'undred. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. He . Had he been a motorist." "Yes--Thank you. constable. 'Wot's this all about. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. sir." "Yes." "I have never heard of such a thing. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. "I _was_ wet. ''Allo. Butt promptly. sir! Mrs. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. Butt. sir. "I was on my beat. I will look into the matter at once. As it was.' I says. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. sir. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. I says to myself.

The pond affair had. which at one time had looked like being fatal. it is certain--that. And here they were. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. but for one malcontent. . always ready to stop work. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. however. right in it after all. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. As it was. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. and finally become a mere vague memory. A public school has no Hyde Park. They were not malicious. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. which was followed throughout the kingdom. or nearly always. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way.W. as a whole. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. There is every probability--in fact. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. and the school. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. blank. "There'll be a frightful row about it. he got the impression that the school. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. It was one vast.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. astounded "Here. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. When condensed.. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. everybody's comment on the situation came to that.. The blow had fallen. was culpable. of course. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. expend itself in words." they had said. about a week before the pond episode. and in private at that. I say!" Everybody was saying it. he would have asked for their names. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. It must always. Only two days before the O. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. and not of only one or two individuals. It could not understand it. The school was thunderstruck.. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. become public property. though not always in those words.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. It happened that.

He added that something ought to be done about it. Wyatt was unmoved. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. as a whole. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. He said it was a swindle. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. and that it was a beastly shame. a day-boy. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. and probably considered himself." "All right. intense respect for order and authority. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. and scenting sarcasm." . and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. I'm not going to." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. Before he came to Wyatt. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. on the whole. and he was full of it. Leaders of men are rare." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. and. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. a daring sort of person. "Well. that it was all rot." "You're rotting. their ironbound conservatism. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. It requires genius to sway a school. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. even though he may not approve of it.The malcontent was Wyatt." "Why not?" said Wyatt.

"Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. ragging barred. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. excited way. Groups kept forming in corners apart." Another pause. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea." said Neville-Smith after a pause. "Do. I believe. what a score." "Not bad. but." "You'll get sacked." "By Jove." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. I should be glad of a little company. I say. they couldn't do much." "I suppose so." "I could get quite a lot. and let you know." "All right. "It would be a bit of a rag." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. "I say." "I say. Wyatt whistling."No. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. If the whole school took Friday off." said Wyatt. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. Are you just going to cut off. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith." "That would be a start. They couldn't sack the whole school. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone.

"the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. "I say. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. A few." "So do I. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. it's just striking. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. like the gravel. were empty. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. I should have got up an hour later. and at three minutes to nine. rather to the scandal of the authorities. I can't make it out. The form-rooms. came on bicycles. Why. but it had its leaven of day-boys. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about." "So should I. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. as a general rule. I say. saying it was on again all right. whose homes were farther away. trying to get in in time to answer their names. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. and walked to school. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school." ." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car." "Somebody would have turned up by now.'s day row. however.W. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. to Brown. the only other occupant of the form-room. The majority of these lived in the town." said Willoughby. Some one might have let us know. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays." said Brown.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. of the Lower Fifth. though unable to interfere. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. what a swindle if he did. who. "It's jolly rum.

sir. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. and looked puzzled. here _is_ somebody." he said. we don't know. sir. "Hullo. "Well. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. sir. Seeing the obvious void. sir. Spence pondered." "Have you seen nobody?" "No."Hullo. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. He walked briskly into the room." Mr. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall." "Yes. Mr. Spence?" Mr." Mr. Perhaps. as was his habit. he stopped in his stride. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. . But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. and the notice was not brought to me. sir. A brisk conversation was going on. if the holiday had been put on again. Spence. The usual lot who come on bikes. as you say." "None of the boarders?" "No." "This is extraordinary. there is a holiday to-day. Spence. Several voices hailed Mr. Spence as he entered. We were just wondering. Brown. He was not a house-master. and a few more were standing." "I've heard nothing about it. And they were all very puzzled. Not a single one. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. sir." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. after all. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. "Willoughby. as he walked to the Common Room. Spence told himself." "We were just wondering. sir. Spence seated himself on the table." It was the master of the Lower Fifth.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

"Anything I can do for you. * * * * * At the school. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. jam. each house claiming its representatives. as generalissimo of the expedition. with comments and elaborations. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. please. He always told that as his best story. At Worfield the expedition lunched. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. It was not a market-day. net practice was just coming to an end when." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life." the leading inn of the town. Other inns were called upon for help. And the army lunched sumptuously. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. faintly. "Yes. Private citizens rallied round with bread. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. In the early afternoon they rested. and apples. In addition. fortunately. .his paper. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. Wyatt." said Wyatt. They looked weary but cheerful. it melted away little by little. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. the march home was started. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. singing the school song. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. And two days later. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. At the school gates only a handful were left." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. and he always ended with the words. and as evening began to fall. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. As the army drew near to the school.

had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. The less astute of the picnickers. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice.Bob Jackson. The school streamed downstairs." He then gave the nod of dismissal. This was the announcement. and gazed at him. they didn't send in the bill right away." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. Finds the job too big to tackle. But it came all . isn't it! He's funked it. indeed." he chuckled. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. There was. "My dear chap. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. were openly exulting." said Wyatt. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. walking back to Donaldson's. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. marvelling. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. Now for it." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features." he said. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. It hasn't started yet. speechless." Wyatt was damping. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. I thought he would. thought the school. "Hullo. "this is all right. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. "I say. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. met Wyatt at the gate. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood.

" Wyatt roared with laughter. Only the bigger fellows. They surged round it. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. then?" "Rather. as they went back to the house." said Mike." "Sting?" "Should think it did. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred.right." he said. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. It was a comprehensive document. as he read the huge scroll. and post them outside the school shop. I was one of the first to get it." it began. I'm glad you got off. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them." "Do you think he's going to do something. You wait. "I don't know what you call getting off." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school." said Clowes." "Glad you think it funny. who was walking a little stiffly." Wyatt was right. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. He lowers all records. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. the school sergeant. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." said Mike ruefully. To-day. The headmaster had acted. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. Rather a good thing. "What!" "Yes. "he is an old sportsman." . "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday." "Thanks. Buns were forgotten. "By Gad. It left out little. I notice. I never saw such a man. "None of the kids are in it. He was quite fresh.

if his fielding was something extra special. Adams. "I'm not rotting. that's the lot." said Mike. "All right." said Mike indignantly. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. Ashe." continued Wyatt. So you field like a demon this afternoon. But there'll be several vacancies. Don't break down. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra." "Oh. what rot!" "It is. I thought you weren't. Let's see. one of the places. really. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. you're better off than I am. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. like everybody else." * * * * * Billy Burgess. He had his day-dreams. Me. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me." "An extra's nothing much.C. Anyhow. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. making a century in record time). incidentally. rather. so you're all right. Any more? No." said Mike. Probably Druce. overcome. if it were me. captain of Wrykyn cricket. "Or. Fielding especially." said Wyatt seriously. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. Still." "I say. I should think they'd give you a chance. You'll probably get my place in the team. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening." "I say. buck up." "I'm not breaking down. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. I don't blame him either. was a genial giant. especially as he's a bowler himself." "I should be awfully sick. The present was one of the rare . To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. That's next Wednesday." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. match. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. Burgess is simply mad on fielding." said Mike uncomfortably.C. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. "it's awfully decent of you." "You don't think there's any chance of it. by Jove! I forgot. rather. it isn't you. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. Wyatt." "You needn't rot. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. whatever his batting was like." "Well."Well.

That's your trouble.C. Wyatt found him in his study.C." "Why don't you play him against the M. "Eight. and drop you into the river. I've dropped my stud." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. as Wyatt appeared. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer." "Right ho!.C. in the excitement of the moment the M. I will say that for him." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. "The fact is. shortly before lock-up." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. For a hundred and three. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. full of strange oaths. He's as tall as I am. Then he returned to the attack. match went clean out of my mind." said Wyatt. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. Dash. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. "Come on. "I'm awfully sorry." grumbled Burgess. jumping at his opportunity. "He's as good a bat as his brother.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. Bill." "Rot. There it is in the corner. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No... and a better field. and let's be friends. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man.C. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. he isn't small." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. And I'd jump on the sack first. like the soldier in Shakespeare. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. That kid's good. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked." "You haven't got a mind. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. give me a kiss." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. Besides. I was on the spot. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all." "I suppose he is.

"All right. gassing to your grandchildren. wouldn't you? Very well. That kid's a genius at cricket. CHAPTER XIII THE M. and his heart missed a beat.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. even Joe. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. The bell went ages ago. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock." he said. He's going to be better than any of his brothers." said Burgess. better . Frightful gift of the gab you've got. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. For." said Wyatt. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M.C. then. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. chaps who play forward at everything. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. "Just give him a trial. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. Burgess. Jackson." Burgess hesitated. Wyatt. there is a curious. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. "You rotter. "I'll think it over. His own name." "Good. "You know. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. Give him a shot. and you rave about top men in the second. bottom but one. it's a bit risky. I shall be locked out. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match.C. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. B. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's." "You play him. poor kids. Everything seems hushed and expectant." Wyatt got up. "Think it over.C. how you 'discovered' M. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. So long. at Lord's.C. just above the W." he said. He read it. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age." said Wyatt." Wyatt stopped for breath.

"Didn't I always say it. "Why. to wait.C. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. here he is. team came down the steps. "By Jove." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo." "Well. "Got all the strokes. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes.after lunch.C." said Saunders. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. hopeless feeling left Mike. where he had changed. Master Mike. and stopped dead. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. I always said it. when the strangeness has worn off. isn't he." he said." said Saunders. Master Mike. the lost. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. so that they could walk over together. He stopped short. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . and quite suddenly. Three chaps are in extra. Saunders!" cried Mike." "Well. as Saunders had done. "Isn't it ripping. Only wants the strength. and then they'll have to put you in. "Why. and I got one of the places." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. Master Joe. I'm only playing as a sub. sir. you know." "Of course. He could almost have cried with pure fright. I'm hanged! Young marvel.. Saunders?" "He is." he chuckled. Mike walked across from Wain's. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. sir. you'll make a hundred to-day. saw him. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. Hullo. feeling quite hollow. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice.

The M. .C. and playing for the school. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. Saunders is our only bowler. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. aren't you. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. The Authentic. "Aged ten last birthday. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. On the other hand. but Bob fumbled it. You wait till he gets at us to-day. The beginning of the game was quiet." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. It was a moment too painful for words. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. And. but he is. as usual. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. As a captain. team. conscious of being an uncertain field. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. It was the easiest of slip-catches. just when things seemed most hopeless. exhibiting Mike.w.M. At twenty. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. The wicket was hard and true. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. and hoping that nothing would come his way. still taking risks. tried to late-cut a rising ball." said the other with dignity. Burgess was glad as a private individual. missed it. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it.C. Joe began to open his shoulders. sorry as a captain. but he contrived to chop it away.b. You are only ten. and was l. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. getting in front of his wicket. and the pair gradually settled down. for Joe. almost held it a second time. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. was feeling just the same. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. not to mention the other first-class men. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first.C. who grinned bashfully." "This is our star. "I never saw such a family. For himself." "I _have_ won the toss. dropped it.C. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. Bob. relief came.

The hundred went up at five o'clock. Morris. was optimistic. I wish I was in. things settled down. but wickets fell at intervals. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. Following out this courageous advice. the school first pair. coming in last. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. Then came lunch. was a thoroughly sound bat." he said to Berridge and Marsh. but exceedingly hard to shift. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. Some years before. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. and two hundred and fifty. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. A hundred an hour is quick work. Runs came with fair regularity. the hundred and fifty at half-past. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . hit two boundaries. Saunders. total over the three hundred." said Burgess. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. to make the runs. as usual. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. Two hundred went up. on the present occasion. third-change bowlers had been put on. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school.C. a little on the slow side. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven.C. "Better have a go for them. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. and the M. and was stumped next ball. and was then caught by Mike. Both batsmen were completely at home. Joe was still in at one end. against Ripton. After this. A comfortable. "Lobs. "By Jove. all round the wicket. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in.C. there was scarcely time. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. however. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Then Joe reached his century. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. His second hit had just lifted the M.C. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. Four after four. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. Berridge. invincible. the first-wicket man. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. Unfortunately. the end was very near.The school revived. was stumped half-way through the third. Burgess. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps.

Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. The first over yielded six runs. As a matter of fact. He had refused to be tempted. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Bob Jackson went in next. He knew his teeth were chattering. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. No good trying for the runs now. three of them victims to the lobs. "and it's ten past six. and Mike. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. He was jogging on steadily to his century. The bowler smiled sadly. seemed to give Morris no trouble. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. . and Morris.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. fumbling at a glove. Stick in. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. For a time things went well. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. because they had earned it. The long stand was followed. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. In the second.. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. as if he hated to have to do these things. he felt better. Morris was still in at one end. At the wickets. Bob. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. and a thin. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. Mike drew courage from his attitude. Saunders. He wished he could stop them. tottered out into the sunshine. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. and get the thing over. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. but they were distinctly envious.." said Burgess. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. insinuating things in the world." he added to Mike. five wickets were down. Lobs are the most dangerous. And that was the end of Marsh. Twenty runs were added. It was the same story to-day. all through gentle taps along the ground. and hit the wicket. It was his turn next. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. as usual." All!. by a series of disasters. "That's all you've got to do. At last he arrived.

It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. Mike grinned. "Play straight. moment Mike felt himself again." said a voice. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. Burgess came in. Saunders was a conscientious man. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. but always a boundary. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. did not disturb him. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. doubtless. All nervousness had left him. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. skips and the jump. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket.. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box." said the umpire. The moment had come. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. Mike would have liked to have run two. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. and Saunders. "Don't be in a funk. just the right distance away from the off-stump. but he himself must simply stay in. . He felt equal to the situation. "To leg. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. The next moment the dreams had come true. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. It was a half-volley.. sometimes a cut." It was Joe. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball.. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. and. and invariably hit a boundary." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. Burgess continued to hit. The bowling became a shade loose. Half-past six chimed. Even the departure of Morris. sir. There was only Reeves to follow him. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. Sometimes a drive. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. Saunders was beginning his run. Now. wryly but gratefully. he failed signally. and bowled. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. which he hit to the terrace bank. On the other hand. besides being conscientious. If so. and you can't get out. the school was shouting. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl.

One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. fast left-hand." Mike was a certainty now for the second. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. match. Joe. and Mike got his place in the next match." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. against the Gentlemen of the County. He hit out." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you." said Wyatt. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. were not brilliant cricketers." But Burgess.C. at any rate as far .C. Four: beat him. at the last ball. All was well." said the wicket-keeper. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. so you may as well have the thing now. Down on it again in the old familiar way." Then came the second colours. who had played twice for the first eleven. * * * * * So Wilkins. "nothing. and mid-off. naturally. "I'll give him another shot. But it was all that he expected.The lob bowler had taken himself off. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. as has been pointed out. "I told you so. as many a good man had done before him. Mike played it back to the bowler. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. "I'm sorry about your nose. Mike let it alone. Number two: yorker. and missed the wicket by an inch. this may not seem an excessive reward. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. They might mean anything from "Well. just failed to reach it. "He's not bad. and we have our eye on you. Five: another yorker. jumping. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. That meant. First one was given one's third eleven cap. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. "You are a promising man. the visiting team. almost at a venture. to Burgess after the match. here you are. It hummed over his head." said Burgess. You won't get any higher. of the School House. Unfortunately for him. dropped down into the second. however gentlemanly.

was captain of the side. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. He had made seventeen. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. House matches had begun. did better in this match. prancing down the pitch. "Well. Ellerby. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. "Come on. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. _verbatim_. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. this score did not show up excessively. Mike pounded it vigorously. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. eh? Well. not out. hit one in the direction of cover-point. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. and Marsh all passing the half-century. who had the bowling. went in first. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. and was then caught at cover. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. Run along. and he and Wyatt went in first. he waxed fat and kicked. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. with Raikes. as head of the house. The school won the toss. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. having the most tender affection for his dignity. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. and Berridge. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs." he said. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. Mike went in first wicket. Raikes possessed few subtleties. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. making twenty-five. For some ten minutes all was peace. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. made a fuss. "you played a very decent innings this bowling was concerned. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. Morris making another placid century. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. See? That's all. supported by some small change. but Firby-Smith. when the Gazeka. ." Mike departed. He was enjoying life amazingly. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. as the star. match. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. The Gazeka. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. and was thoroughly set. of the third eleven.C. Then Wain's opened their innings." he shouted. and. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M.C. mind you don't go getting swelled head. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. Bob. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. The following. to the detriment of Mike's character. bursting with fury. It happened in this way.

besides being captain of the eleven." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. "You know young Jackson in our house. feeling now a little apprehensive." he said. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. The world swam before Mike's eyes." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. And Mike. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. Firby-Smith did not grovel." Burgess looked incredulous.Mike. and lick him. was also head of the school. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. he was also sensitive on the subject. shouting "Run!" and. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. "Easy run there. "Don't _laugh_. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. a man of simple speech. "I want to speak to you. thought Firby-Smith. At close of play he sought Burgess. you grinning ape!" he cried. Firby-Smith arrived." . miss it." he said. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. "Rather a large order. a prefects' meeting. cover having thrown the ball in. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. "What's up?" said Burgess. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face." he said reprovingly. And only a prefects' meeting. Burgess. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. avoided him. These are solemn moments. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. you know. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. chewing the insult. Burgess. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. "It isn't funny.

Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. I'll think it over." he said meditatively. Besides. Geddington." And the matter was left temporarily at that. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. "Yes. "Rather thick. . Here was he. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. Bob occurred to him. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. he's a decent kid. well--Well. It became necessary." "Oh. were strong this year at batting. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. but he thought the thing over. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. as the nearest of kin. "Well.C. In the second place. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. with the air of one uttering an epigram. and particularly the M. look here. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world." "He's frightfully conceited. And here was another grievance against fate. In the first place. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. and let you know to-morrow. Bob was one of his best friends. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike." said Firby-Smith. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. On the other hand. therefore. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. the results of the last few matches. but turned the laugh into a cough. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. It was only fair that Bob should be told.C. I mean--A prefects' meeting. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. anyhow. Still. match. Burgess started to laugh. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details.

"Still----" "I know. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. "Take a pew." "I suppose so. Bob?" he asked." . These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. Bob. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. So out Bob had gone. It's rather hard to see what to do. "Personally. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. can't you? This is me. Mike was good. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. I want to see you. dark. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. "Sickening thing being run out. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. sitting over here. "Silly young idiot. You know how to put a thing nicely." continued Burgess gloomily. Bob was bad. the captain. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. I sympathise with the kid. Have some?" "No." said Bob. but in fielding there was a great deal. He came to me frothing with rage.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. one's bound to support him." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. and Neville-Smith." suggested Burgess. but he _is_ an ass. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. The tall. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. look here. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. took his place. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. you know. "Hullo. "Still.' Billy." he said. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess." "Well. "Busy. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. handsome chap. I say. you can." he added." "It's awfully awkward. thanks. the man.

I tell you what." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. Look here. "Well. "I wanted to see you. I don't know. But he recovered himself. I know." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. I'm a prefect. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. "I say. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. would it be. You must play the the old Gazeka over. Bob." emended the aggrieved party. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. "You see it now. go and ask him to drop the business. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally."Awful rot. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. nothing--I mean. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. not much of a catch for me. though. apart from everything else. He had a great admiration for Bob. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. "Yes?" "Oh. By now he'll have simmered down a bit." he said. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out." said Bob. "Burgess was telling me. "I thought you hadn't. "I didn't think of you. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. One cannot help one's thoughts. "Look here. "I that sort. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team." he said. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. having to sit there and look on. you know. too. is there? I mean. aren't you? Well. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise." said Bob." he said. "Don't do that." . you're not a bad sort." he said." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. You know. made him waver." It was a difficult moment for Bob. you know. he became all animation. you're a pal of his. Seeing Bob. He gets right way. He wants kicking.

" "Thanks. All right then. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. and the offensively forgiving. He was not inclined to be critical. Firby-Smith. "I'm specially glad for one reason." "Of course it was. "I say. Still." "Thanks. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. you know. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast." said Burton." said Mike. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. he felt grateful to Bob. of course. fourteen years of age. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. Mike's all right. though without success. really." "No. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. and owed him many grudges. Reflection."Well. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. so subdued was his fighting spirit. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. I think if I saw him and cursed him. and Burton felt revengeful. After all. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest." said Bob. of Donaldson's." "Yes. But for Bob. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. and went to find Mike. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. And. I did run him out. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. there's that. He was a punctured balloon. he. he gave him to understand. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. without interest. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. in the course of his address. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. most of all." and Bob waving them back. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. Mike. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. . and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. Curiously enough. it was frightful cheek. and unburdened his soul to him." "What's that?" inquired Mike. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law.

" said Mike. that's bad luck. I suppose?" "Oh. and his decision remained unaltered. Be all right." "Thanks. but several times. though. They were _all_ beasts. On the evening before the Geddington match. Good-night. * * * * * Mike walked on. just before lock-up. some taint." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest." "I say. We wanted your batting." "Hope so." said Mike stolidly. "Come in!" yelled the captain. in a day or two. Not once or twice. as it were. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition.54 next morning. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. for his left was in a sling." And Burgess. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. He'd have been playing but for you. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. He kicked Burton. anyway. too. He thought the thing over more fully during school. rather. He tapped with his right hand. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. Beastly bad luck. retiring hurriedly. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. weighing this remark. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. and gradually made up his mind. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. yes. CHAPTER XVI ." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. so that Burton. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood." "Good-night. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. Burgess.

There's a second match on.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. "School playing anybody to-day. Be all right by Monday. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house." "Why aren't you--Hullo. It's nothing much. thanks. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. "It isn't anything. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life." "Doctor seen it?" "No. at the request of Mike's mother." "Hurt?" "Not much. His telegram arrived during morning school. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. Uncle John." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket." "Never mind." "I could manage about that. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. really. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. after an adventurous career." "They're playing Geddington." "H'm. and. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. mainly in Afghanistan. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. I think I should like to see the place first. Somebody ought to look at it. I didn't see. It doesn't matter a bit. . Now. Still. I'll have a look later on. and. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. Mike? I want to see a match. He had thereupon left the service. what shall we do. But it's really nothing. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. Coming south. Only it's away.

Of course. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. but I thought that was only as a substitute. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. The thing was done. Neville-Smith. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. Mike. I've got plenty of time. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. they'll probably keep him in. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. by George!" remarked Uncle John. It was a glorious day. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. I see. and done well." "Rather awkward." Uncle John detected the envious note. if he does well against Geddington. I should think. He's in the School House. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. "Chap in Donaldson's. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven.Got to be done." "For the first? For the school! My word. Then there'll be only the last place left. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. that. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. and they passed on to the cricket field. Very nice. "Ah yes." he said enviously. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. and better do it as soon as possible." two or three times in an absent voice. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. it was this Saturday. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. What bad luck. A sudden." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. "If he does well to-day. By Jove." "Still. it's Bob's last year. but he choked the feeling down. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. as Trevor. They look as if they were getting set. "That's Trevor. I was playing for the first. But I wish I ." said Mike. I didn't know that. There are only three vacancies. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business.

and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. "That hurt?" he asked." "Rotten trick for a boy." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. Uncle John looked up sharply." said Mike. "Ye--no. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. The next piece of shade that you see. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. "Put the rope over that stump. "It's really nothing. unskilful stroke. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself." stammered Mike. They got up. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. Let's have a look at the wrist. Mike?" "No. then gave it a little twist. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. "That willow's what you want. and sighed contentedly. but his uncle had already removed the sling. "Let's just call at the shop." After they had watched the match for an hour." he began. "Geddington 151 for four. Mike was crimson. Which reminds me. let me--Done it? Good. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. When you get to my age you need it. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. sing out. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. recovered himself. ." said Uncle John. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. and we'll put in there. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. The telegram read. Can you manage with one hand? Here." said Mike. Lunch." said Mike." "Pull your left. "The worst of a school. I badly want a pipe. as he pulled up-stream with strong." Uncle John looked over his shoulder.could get in this year." "Not bad that. I wonder how Bob's got on. caught a crab. "I hope you don't smoke." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes.

staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. so I thought I might as well let him." "I ought to be getting back soon. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. There was an exam. really. Mike told it. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. (This. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light." "I won't tell him. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty." When in doubt. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. "Jove. "May as well tell me. "I know.. It wasn't that." Uncle John was silent. I was nearly asleep. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. I think. Look here. It had struck him as neat and plausible. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. Mike said nothing." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke.. dash it all then. Lock-up's at half-past. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. I won't give you away. well. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated.. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. on."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. swear you won't tell him. where his fate was even now being sealed. while Mike. let his mind wander to Geddington. and his uncle sat up. one may as well tell the truth.) "Swear you won't tell him. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. would they give him his cap? Supposing." . That's how it was. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. gaping. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first.

How's your wrist?" "Oh. "It was simply baking at Geddington. as they reached the school gates. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. Jackson 48). "By Jove." said Mike. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. I'm going to shove her off. . First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. It was a longer message this time. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. "We won." he said." Mike worked his way back through the throng." Wyatt began to undress. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. It was the only possible reply." "There'll be another telegram. then. I should think. eh? We are not observed. and they ragged the whole time. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. and rejoined his uncle. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. only they wouldn't let me. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat." He paused for a moment. Don't fall overboard." he added carelessly. thanks. Marsh 58. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. better. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. Uncle John felt in his pocket. "Well?" said Uncle John. Neville-Smith four)."Up with the anchor. I'm done. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. I wanted to go to sleep. "Bob made forty-eight.

He was very fond of Bob. too. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Only one or two thirds. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. reviewing the match that night. to-day. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. though. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. he would get insomnia. off Billy. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. and another chap. Bob puts them both on the floor. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. Ripping innings bar those two chances. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season." Burgess." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. he fell asleep. Beastly man to bowl to. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. With great guile he had fed this late cut. he felt." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. with watercress round it. Their umpire. I was in at the other end. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . If he dwelt on it. when he does give a couple of easy chances. Just lost them the match. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Never saw a clearer case in my life." "Most captains would have done."No. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. can't remember who. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. And. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Chap had a go at it. Bit of luck for Bob. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. Soothed by these memories. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. He let their best man off twice in one over." "Why. had come to much the same conclusion. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. No first. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. as he lay awake in his cubicle. A bit lucky. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. Jenkins and Clephane.

I'm frightfully sorry. but I mean.chance of reforming. he played for the second. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that." "Do you know." "I know. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. I'm certain the deep would be much better. found his self-confidence returning slowly." "All right then." Bob was all remorse. It's simply awful. This did not affect the bulk of the school. as he stood regarding the game from afar." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. accordingly. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. I shall miss it. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . and hoped for the day. I hate the slips. Try it. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. I can't time them. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. * * * * * In the next two matches. Bob figured on the boundary. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. Bob. Bob. drop by drop. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. I'll practise like mad. "It's those beastly slip catches. I believe I should do better in the deep. I could get time to watch them there." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. of Seymour's. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. About your fielding. Trevor'll hit me up catches. "Look here." "Well. As for Mike. Both of them were." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. I know that if a catch does come. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now.

and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. would be Shoeblossom. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. who was top of the school averages. He had occasional headaches. The next victim was Marsh. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . The professional advice of Dr. was called for. and. Essentially a man of moods. He made his way there. He tried out of doors. at the same moment. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. Two days later Barry felt queer. He. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. but people threw cushions at him. Upstairs. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. In brief. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. entering the High Street furtively. Where were his drives now. He tried the junior day-room. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. for chicken-pox. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. the son of the house." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it.Quiet Student. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. and in the dingy back shop. disappeared from Society. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. the school doctor. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. Shoeblossom. too. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. and returned to the school. squealing louder than any two others. and also. Oakes. Shoeblossom came away. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. of the first eleven. what was more important. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. however necessary such an action might seem to him. sucked oranges. where he read _Punch_. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. and at the bottom of the heap. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. G. he was attending J. Marsh. and thought of Life. peace. On the Tuesday afternoon.

"there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. But on this particular day. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. Bob. The total was a hundred and seven. His food ran out. They had only been beaten once. Got through a slice. made a dozen. too. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. bar the servants. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. All sorts of luxuries. And I can square them. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. Some schools do it in nearly every match. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. and ate that. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. and was not out eleven. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. but nobody except Wyatt.elect." . did anything to distinguish himself. "Well. going in fourth wicket. and the school. for rain fell early in the morning. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. and the Incogniti. batting when the wicket was easier. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. Too old now. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. they failed miserably. Have to look after my digestion. I remember. I've got the taste in my mouth still. for no apparent reason. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. doubled this. and Mike kept his end up. for Neville-Smith. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. and I'm alone. when Wain's won the footer cup. batting first on the drying wicket. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. and after that the rout began. three years ago. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. The weather may have had something to do with it.

" "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. was more at his ease. I don't know. he poured Mike out a cup. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. Why? What about?" . But young Mike's all over him as a bat." "Bit better. He got tea ready. passed him the bread. he would just do it." Mike stared."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. I can't say more than that." "You get on much better in the deep. Still. of course." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. one wants the best man." "You were all right. Bob. Pity to spoil the record. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. though. He's bound to get in next year. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. making desultory conversation the while. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. Mike." continued Bob. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. and sat down. being older. When he had finished. of course. "Not seen much of each other lately. yes. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. We've all been at Wrykyn. Beastly awkward. "because it is. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "Oh. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this.

what I wanted to see you about was this. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle." said Mike. After all. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. There was nothing much to _be_ said. It had been his one ambition. '_I_ think M. 'Well. of course. and then sheered off myself. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. to shake his hand. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. there'll be no comparison. now." muttered Mike. I couldn't help hearing what they said. and I picked it up and started reading it. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. Burgess.." Mike looked at the floor. in the First room. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. Bob.' said Spence. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. Billy said. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps."Well.'" "Oh." resumed Bob. He's a shade better than R.'s like a sounding-board.' said old Bill. but. I fancy you've won. He was sorry for Bob. "Thanks. The pav. They thought the place was empty. don't let's go to the other extreme. 'Well. he's cricket-master." It was the custom at Wrykyn.' he said. sir. Congratulate you. What do you think. I'm jolly glad it's you. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. "Not at all. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. . Spence said. and in a year or two. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. sir?' Spence said. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. They shook hands." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. So Mike edged out of the room. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. and now he had achieved it.' 'Yes. "Well. 'Decidedly M. I'll give you my opinion. and that's what he's there for. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. 'It's rough on Bob. I heard every word. 'That's just what I think. awfully. on the other hand. I was in the pav. just now. and so on. And so home. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. 'I don't know what to do. and said nothing. I waited a bit to give them a good start. I'm simply saying what I think. As it isn't me. wiping the sweat off his forehead. but don't feel bound to act on it. of course. and tore across to Wain's. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. Well. sir. rot. It's the fortune of war. Billy agreed with him.

As he passed it. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. orders were orders. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. therefore. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. ." "Oh. was not. And Wyatt was at Bisley. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. Until he returned. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman.--W. as it always does. This was to the good. he felt. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. Still. It would have to be done. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. He took his quarter of an hour. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_.30 to-morrow morning." said Mike. dash it. It wouldn't do. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. Mike could tell nobody. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels.-S. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. he found that it was five minutes past six.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. even on a summer morning. Reaching out a hand for his watch. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. F. and this silent alarm proved effective. and a little more. a prospect that appealed to him.

"look here. "Young Jackson. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. by the way. Make the rest of the team fag about. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. he said to himself." he said. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. Here was he. would be bad enough. Mike thought he would take another minute. Didn't you see the notice?" . But not a chap who. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. I want to know what it all means. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. inconvenienced--in short. Now he began to waver. One simply lies there. But logic is of no use. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. And outside in the cricket-field. One knows that delay means inconvenience. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. yes. The painful interview took place after breakfast. that Mike. It was time. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. dash it all. Who _was_ he. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. being ordered about. he asked himself. in coming to his den. and glared. and waited. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. Was this right. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. and jolly quick. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. One would have felt. looking at him. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. he felt.

I've had my eye on you for some time. this. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent." "Oh. The rather large grain of truth in what . What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. "Six!" "Five past. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. The point is that you're one of the house team. did you? Well. "Then you frightful kid." said the Gazeka shrilly. Awfully embarrassing. and I'm captain of it." said Mike indignantly. Frightful swelled head." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. Just because you've got your second. and I've seen it coming on.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. as you please. young man. That's got nothing to do with it. "Yes. just listen to me. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. turn up or not. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. you do. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. "What time did you wake up?" "Six." "I don't. "Do--you--see. You think the place belongs to you. He mentioned this. you think you can do what you like. but he rather fancied not. you went to sleep again. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. You've got swelled head. Happy thought: over-slept himself." said Mike. It was not according to his complicated. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. See?" Mike said nothing. That's what you've got.

the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. Very heady. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. Wyatt came back.Firby-Smith had said had gone home." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. "Do you see?" he asked again. Wyatt was worn out. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. He set his teeth. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. If it's a broken heart. "What's your trouble?" he asked. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. and surveyed Mike. Zam-buk's what you want. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. I didn't hit the bull every time. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. as he had nearly done once before. and stared at a photograph on the wall. Failing that." he said. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. for a beaker full of the warm south. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. What one really wants here is a row of stars. full of the true. "Oh. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. "That's the cats. Always at it. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form." He left the dormitory. and his feelings were hurt. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me." . but that was to give the other fellows a chance. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. and I suppose it always will be. Mike's jaw set more tightly. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. but cheerful. water will do. I'll go down and look. A-ah!" He put down the glass. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. Well.

" "I didn't turn up. my gentle che-ild. a word in your ear. The speaker then paused. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. drew a deep breath. It's too early in the morning." "What! Why?" "Oh. Cheers from the audience. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment."He said I stuck on side. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were .' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. He winked in a friendly way. while I get dropped on if I break out. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. you'll have a rotten time here. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. Otherwise. putting down the jug. blood as you are at cricket." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. There are some things you simply can't do. and say. I defy any one to. I don't know. look here." he said. That's discipline. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. did he buttonhole you on your way to school." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. "Nothing like this old '87 water. and. you've got to obey him. really." "Why?" "I don't know. but. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. You stick on side. silent natures. "I say. that 'ere is. 'Talking of side." "I mean. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." "In passing." "No. 'Jackson. you stick it on. "Such body. If he's captain. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. "And why. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. and." said Mike morosely. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it." "I like you jawing about discipline.

really meant. His feelings were curiously mixed. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. before the Ripton match. I thank you. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. Haileybury. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. for the first time in his life. young Jackson. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Tonbridge. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. If Wyatt. . Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. if possible. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. having beaten Ripton. I don't know why. and St." Mike made no reply. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match." he concluded modestly. but each played each. most forms of law and order. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. Dulwich. Paul's are a third. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. would go down before Wilborough. or Wrykyn. of which so much is talked and written. but it generally did. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. Ripton. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. Geddington. as far as games are concerned. Eton. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. That night. but it isn't done. Harrow. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. He would have perished rather than admit it. rather. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. or. When you're a white-haired old man like me. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. There was no actual championship competition. Until you learn that. In this way. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. "me. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. That was the match with Ripton. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. About my breaking out. the other you mustn't ever break. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. Wrykyn.saying--just so. and Wilborough formed a group. cheerful disregard of. But this did not happen often.

and he had done well in the earlier matches. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. After all. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. "Pleasure is pleasure. From small causes great events do spring. and he hated to have to do it. It was a difficult catch. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. he would have kept Bob In. and biz is biz." said Burgess." "Banzai!" said Burgess. As it was. In case of accident. But. engrossed in his book.Burgess. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. the sorrier he was for him. but he was steady. Spence. as the poet has it. He could write it after tea. and Mr. And. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. With him at short slip. there was a week before the match. If he could have pleased himself. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. "Well held. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. feeling that life was good. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. . he postponed the thing. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. One gave him no trouble. Bob got to it with one hand. Finally he had consulted Mr. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. The more he thought of it. and sprint. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. He had fairly earned his place. and held it. accordingly. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. The report was more than favourable. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. * * * * * When school was over. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. There were two vacancies. Spence had voted for Mike.

and so he proceeded to tell . in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. but it's all right. it may be mentioned. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding." said Bob awkwardly. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. did not enter his mind. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. as who should say. towards the end of the evening. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. He was glad for the sake of the school. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast." he explained. "Young Jackson. his mind full of Bob once more. but one has one's personal ambitions. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again." "Easy when you're only practising. There are many kinds of walk. of course. What hard luck it was! There was he. "What's up?" inquired Burgess." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it." said Bob. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land." "Oh. That Burgess would feel. He suppressed his personal feelings. He'll be able to play on Saturday. Burgess passed on." "I've just been to the Infirmary. "This way for Iron Wills. in fact. hoping he had said it as if he meant it." There was. It was the cricket captain who. It was decidedly a blow. do you mean? Oh. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. "You're hot stuff in the deep. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. "I couldn't get both hands to it. and all the time the team was filled up." "Good." said the Gazeka."Hullo. on being told of Mike's slackness. and became the cricket captain again. nothing. Firby-Smith. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation.

and to cut practice struck him as a crime. Bob. hurrying. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . * * * * * When. that looked less like an M. He felt that he had been deceived in in detail. "Hard luck!" said somebody. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. "Congratulate you. "Congratulate you. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. Bob. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. As he stared. Trevor came out of the block. going out. there had never been an R. Bob stared after him. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. Mike scarcely heard him. There was no possibility of mistake. than the one on that list. therefore. as he was rather late. met Bob coming in. He looked at the paper. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. Bob had beaten him on the tape. and passed on. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. Since writing was invented." he said. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him.

Mike. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument." "No." said Mike." he said awkwardly. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. feeling very ill. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. it's jolly rummy. It'll be something to do during Math." "Well. with equal awkwardness. and Burgess agree with him. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin." said Mike. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. came down the steps. Just then. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. They moved slowly through the cloisters." "Thanks. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. You're a cert. Here it is. "I believe there's a mistake. I'm not." ." "Hope so. "Jolly glad you've got it. Go and look." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. next year seems a very. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears." "My--what? you're rotting. as the post was late. Not much in it. "Congratulate you. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. Bob. you'll have three years in the first." said Bob. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. for next year. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. There was a short silence. No reason why he shouldn't. When one has missed one's colours. "Thanks awfully. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease." The thing seemed incredible. very long way off. You've got your first. neither speaking. I showed you the last one. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. Trevor moved on. This was no place for him. delicately. "Anyhow."Seen what?" "Why the list. if you want to read it. "Got a letter from mother this morning.

and went up to the headmaster. As they went out on the gravel." and. sitting up and taking nourishment. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter." Mike resented the tone." "No. These things are like kicks on the shin. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. that. there appeared on his face a worried. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. and. seeing Mike. "Got that letter?" "Yes. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it."Marjory wrote.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. too. and Mike noticed. but followed. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. he stopped. but it was lessened. He seemed to have something on his mind." "After you. and which in time disappears altogether. somebody congratulated Bob again. "Read that. When they had left the crowd behind. "Hullo." said Mike amiably. seeing that the conversation was ." he said. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. He looked round. with some surprise. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. Bob appeared curiously agitated. The disappointment was still there." "Why not here?" "Come on. I'll give it you in the interval. even an irritated look. Mike heard the words "English Essay. Haven't had time to look at it yet. as it were. I'll show it you outside. "What's up?" asked Mike. A brief spell of agony. Mike was." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. it's for me all right. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. for the first time in her life.

it . and let it take its chance with the other news-items. under the desk. She was jolly sick about it. and ceased to wonder. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. Reggie made a duck. I told her it served her right. Well. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. Phyllis has a cold. lead up to it.apparently going to be one of some length. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. I am quite well.--This has been a frightful fag to write. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. Why don't you do that? "M. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. capped the headmaster and walked off. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday.P. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. it will be all through Mike.S. Bob had had cause to look worried. Have you got your first? If you have. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. He put the missive in his pocket. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. and it's _the_ match of the season. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. "P. and display it to the best advantage. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. with a style of her own. He read it during school.S. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell." There followed a P. She was a breezy correspondent. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him.-"I hope you are quite well. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne.

They met at the nets. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. that's how it was. He came down when you were away at Geddington. I don't know.." "I didn't think you'd ever know. "I know I ought to be grateful. I couldn't choke him off. Marjory meant well. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. Bob couldn't do much. I suppose I am. and all that." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. Still." said Mike. "Did you read it?" "Yes. You know." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. "Of course. and would insist on having a look at my arm. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all.. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. he might at least have whispered them. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. "I mean." . Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it." he broke off hotly." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. So it came out. but she had put her foot right in it. "I did. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. is it all rot. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. "How do you mean?" said Mike. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. "Well?" said Bob. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him.. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. it was beastly awkward. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes." "Well. Besides. If he was going to let out things like that. The team was filled up." he said at last.

anyhow. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate." Which he did. when he awoke. "I must see Burgess about it. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak." He sidled off. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. He thought he would go home." "I'm hanged if it is. finding this impossible. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances." he said. but it never does any good. and it grew so rapidly that. "I shall get in next year all right. He looked helplessly at Mike. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. he altered his plans." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. Others try to grapple with them. When affairs get into a real tangle. and slides out of such situations. and happened to doze. "Besides. sixty feet from the ground. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. . One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. but. "Well. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. "Anyhow. "Well. The sensible man realises this."I don't remember." added Mike. simply to think no more about them." "Oh. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right." "What about it?" "Well." said Bob to himself." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. it's all over now. I decide to remain here. well." Mike said. if one does not do that. who sat down on an acorn one day. and had a not unpleasant time. Half a second. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. admitting himself beaten. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. Or. This is Philosophy.

" "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. It's me. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. in it. I could easily fake up some excuse. You simply keep on saying you're all right. what you say doesn't help us out much. like the man in the oak-tree." Bob agreed. "But I must do something. It's not your fault. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. Bob should have done so. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. It would not be in the picture. "Still. if they are to be done at school." said Bob. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. Imitate this man. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. might find some way of making things right for everybody. but why should you do anything? You're all right. and here you _are_. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. confessed to the same to solve the problem. Tell you what. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. And Burgess. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. Very sporting of your brother and all that. I don't know if it's occurred to you. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. and took the line of least resistance. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. These things. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. though. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. seeing that the point is. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. "I suppose you can't very well. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. at the moment. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. At which period he remarked a rum business. after Mike's fashion. Besides. if possible. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. in council. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. Though. of course." . now it's up." "I do. consulted on the point. have to be carried through stealthily.

." "Anyhow. He's a young slacker." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board." said Neville-Smith." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours." said Burgess. At any rate. thanks for reminding me. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. expansive grin." said Bob. so out he went. I feel like--I don't know what. all right." "Well. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. Wyatt. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. he did tell me. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. but a slack field wants skinning. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. with a brilliant display of front teeth. You sweated away. if that's any good to you. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything." "Oh. and then the top of your head'll come off. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. So long. If you really want to know. whatever happens. Not that you did. if you don't look out. as the Greek exercise books say. So you see how it is. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant ."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. "Thanks. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that." "He isn't so keen. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. A bad field's bad enough. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "I don't care. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face." "I'll tell you what you look like. but supposing you had. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "Mind the step. I've got my first. As the distance between them lessened.

for goodness sake. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. Clephane is. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. and I'll come down. And Beverley. if I did. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. I shall manage it. They all funked it." "So will the glass--with a run." "But one or two day-boys are coming. We shall have rather a rag. for one. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. You can roll up. It's just above the porch. eleven'll do me all right." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. a sudden compunction seized upon . You'll see the window of my room. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders." "Good man." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way." As Wyatt was turning away. can't you?" "Delighted. I needn't throw a brick. if you like. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. I'm going to get the things now." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people." "No." "The race is degenerating. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. anyhow it's to-night. which I have--well." "Yes. Still." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. Make it a bit earlier. Heave a pebble at it. nor iron bars a cage. Still. After have at home in honour of my getting my first. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. I expect." "Said it wasn't good enough." "You _will_ turn up. I get on very well. It'll be the only one lighted up." "The school is going to the dogs.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. All the servants'll have gone to bed.

" "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. I've used all mine." "Oh. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. APPLEBY "You may not know it. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. "Don't you worry about me.Neville-Smith. No expense has been spared. we must make the best of things. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. Rather tricky work. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. do you? I mean." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. you don't think it's too risky. I've got to climb two garden walls. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. He called him back. Ginger-beer will flow like water." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. "What's up?" he asked. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. "I say. that's all right. "but this is the maddest. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. getting back. merriest day of all the glad New Year. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. but he did not state his view of the case. you always are breaking out at night. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. and the wall by the . I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. I don't know if he keeps a dog. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. If so." said Wyatt. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night." "Don't go getting caught." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. though." "I shall do my little best not to be. Still. They've no thought for people's convenience here.

He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. From here he could see the long garden. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. There was a full moon. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. true. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. and let himself out of the back door. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. There he paused. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. the master who had the house next to Mr. Appleby. Appleby. ran lightly across it. "What a night!" he said to himself. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. for instance. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. Wain's. He was in plenty of time. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. it is true. but the room had got hot and stuffy. This was the route which he took to-night. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. Then he decided on the latter. and get a decent show for one's money in . and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. he climbed another wall. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. dusted his trousers. Why not. Much better have flowers. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. sniffing as he walked. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard.potting-shed was a feline club-house. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. Crossing this. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. whatever you did to it. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. which had suffered on the two walls. He was fond of his garden. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. and was in the lane within a minute. At present there remained much to be done. It was a glorious July night. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. They were all dark. The window of his study was open.

There was nothing of the spy about Mr. . In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. through the headmaster. on hands and knees. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. and remember that he is in a position of trust. the extent of the damage done. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. He paused. Appleby that first awoke to action. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. Mr. With a sigh of relief Mr. and rose to his feet. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. Appleby. Appleby. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. It was not an easy question. with the aid of the moonlight. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. As far as he could see. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. he had recognised him. he would have done so. bade him forget the episode. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. As he dropped into the lane. but he may use his discretion. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. The surprise. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. treat it as if it had never happened. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. was a different thing altogether. and indirectly. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. to the parents. however. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. liked and respected by boys and masters. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. Sentiment. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. examining. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. it was not serious. Appleby had left his chair. Breaking out at night. He receives a salary for doing this duty. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. and. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. He went his way openly. He always played the game. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. close his eyes or look the other way. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision.summer at any rate. It was on another plane. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. wondering how he should act. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. without blame. of course. He knew that there were times when a master might.

The blind shot up. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. Wain. Mr. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. and squeezed through into the room. He tapped on the window. like a sea-beast among rocks. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. Exceedingly so. in the middle of which stood Mr. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Mr. I'll climb in through here. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. and walked round to Wain's. . He turned down his lamp. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows." said Mr. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table." Mr. The thing still rankled. Appleby. "I'll smoke. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. He could not let the matter rest where it was. Wain?" he said. Mr. if you don't mind.This was the conclusion to which Mr. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. greatly to Mr. I'm afraid. but they would have to wait. Wain." And." "Sorry. only it's something important. About Wyatt. shall I? No need to unlock the door. "Can I have a word with you." began Mr. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. Appleby. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father.

That is a very good idea of yours. You're the parent. You are quite right. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. That is certainly the course I should pursue. sit down. Appleby. this is most extraordinary."James! In your garden! Impossible." "No. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly." "You astound me." said Mr." "So was I. Appleby." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Appleby. You can deal with the thing directly." "You must have been mistaken. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. "What shall I do?" Mr. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. Dear me. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers." "I don't see why." Mr. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. Tackle the boy when he comes in. a little nettled. Appleby." "There is certainly something in what you say. He was wondering what would happen. It's like daylight out of doors. He hoped . Exceedingly so. I am astonished. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. and. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Wain on reflection." said Mr. Yes." "Good-night." "I will." "Possibly. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. "Let's leave it at that. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Sorry to have disturbed you. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. Appleby offered no suggestion. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. "A good deal. He had taken the only possible course. then. It isn't like an ordinary case. If you come to think of it. and have it out with him. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." "Bars can be removed. He would have no choice." Mr. You are not going?" "Must. Why." "He's not there now. Good-night.

But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left.. and nothing else. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. least of all in those many years younger than himself. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. If he had gone out. Wyatt he had regarded. Mr. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. he reflected wrathfully. Appleby had been right. and the night was warm. was the last straw.they would not. But the other bed was empty. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. He grunted. as a complete nuisance. he would hardly have returned yet. so much as an exasperated... therefore. . and waited there in the semi-darkness. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. Lately. it was true. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened.. by silent but mutual agreement. If further proof had been needed. It was not. broken by various small encounters. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. This breaking-out. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep.. asleep. if he were to be expelled. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. The moon shone in through the empty space. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. the life of an assistant master at a public school. a sorrowful. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. It was not all roses. and walked quietly upstairs. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. Mr. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. He had been working hard. Mike was there. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. one of the bars was missing from the window. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. thinking. It would be a thousand pities. He blew the candle out. and then consider the episode closed. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste.. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. Mr. He took a candle. he felt. He liked Wyatt. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. The light of the candle fell on both beds. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. pondering over the news he had heard. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him.

father!" he said pleasantly. . In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room." snapped the house-master. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. and that immediately. and rubbed his hands together. Mr. He lay down again without a word. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. as the house-master shifted his position. "Hullo. Wain. Then he seemed to recover himself. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. "Hullo!" said Mike. Wain relit his candle. The time had come to put an end to it. is that you. and the letter should go by the first post next day. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Jackson. Wyatt dusted his knees. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. immediately. but could hear nothing. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. Wyatt should not be expelled.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. His voice sounded ominously hollow. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. But he should leave. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. "Go to sleep. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. At that moment Mr. "James!" said Mr. Mike saw him start. There was literally no way out. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory.

holding his breath. Exceedingly astonished." "I got a bit of a start myself." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. I shall be sorry to part with you. About an hour." said Wyatt. I say. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. "I am astonished. The swift and sudden boot. do you think?" "Ah." "What'll he do. I suppose. I say." "Yes. Then Mr. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. it's awful. He flung himself down on his bed. "That reminds me. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. really. "I shall talk to you in my study. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here." He left the room. Me sweating to get in quietly. Follow me there. "You have been out." said Wyatt. To Mike. sir. lying in bed. "I say. rolling with laughter. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. sir. Speaking at a venture.' We . "Yes. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. Wyatt!" said Mike. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. my little Hyacinth. it seemed a long silence. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. what!" "But. speaking with difficulty. Suppose I'd better go down. now.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. "But. Wain spoke. Mike began to get alarmed." said Wyatt at last. "It's all right.

"Well?" "I haven't one. sir." "Not likely. Mr. Don't go to sleep. This is my Moscow.shall meet at Philippi. then. I suppose I'd better go down." "The fact is----" said Wyatt." "And. out of the house. "Sit down." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a ." he said. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. may I inquire." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. Where are me slippers? Ha. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_." Mr. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. That'll be me. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. "It slipped. and began to tap the table. Wyatt sat down. James." "What?" "Yes. "Only my slipper." explained Wyatt." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view." * * * * * In the study Mr. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. James?" Wyatt said nothing. choking sob. Well. sir." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. 'tis well! Lead on. sir." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. "Exceedingly. Wain took up a pen. minions. sir. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. "Well. I follow. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. Wain jumped nervously.

I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. Wyatt." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." continued Mr. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. even were I disposed to do so. At once. Tap like that. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. In a minute or two he would be asleep." "Of course." "I need hardly say." Mr. exceedingly. Do you understand? That is all. approvingly." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. "I wish you wouldn't do that. "As you know. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. watching it. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. It is impossible for me to overlook it. James. Wain suspended tapping operations. "It is expulsion. but this is a far more serious matter. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. ignoring the interruption. You must leave the school. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. father. Exceedingly so. It's sending me to sleep." said Wyatt. You will not go to school to-morrow. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. Only it _was_ sending me off. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all." said Wyatt laconically. Wain. . to see this attitude in you." Wyatt nodded. "I am sorry. I mean. It is not fitting.motor-car. and resumed the thread of his discourse. sir. James.

and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy." said Wyatt cheerfully. and began to undress. was in great request as an informant. here you are. I shoot off almost immediately." "What? When?" "He's left already. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. yes. Mike. "Oh. . Wyatt kicked off his slippers. or some rot. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. all amongst the ink and ledgers. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike." he said. he's got to leave. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon." Mike was miserably silent. but it failed to comfort him. "Buck up. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr."No. Burgess came up." Burgess's first thought. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. He isn't coming to school again." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. father. as befitted a good cricket captain. Wain were public property." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. as an actual spectator of the drama. was for his team. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. "What happened?" "We chatted. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. "Anybody seen young--oh.

" said Mike. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. without enthusiasm." "All right. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon." "I should like to say good-bye. that's the part he bars most. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. during the night. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy." agreed Mike. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. last night after Neville-Smith's. Look here. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. Not unless he comes to the dorm. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. "Hullo. "All the same. Mike!" said Bob. however. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . his pal. They met in the cloisters. "I say. one exception to the general rule. withdrawn." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. There was. I expect. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. and he's taken him away from the school. You know. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. As a matter of fact. though!" he added after a pause. young Jackson. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. anyway. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house." continued Burgess. you see. Hope he does. You'll play on Saturday." "He'll find it rather a change. Wyatt was his best friend. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. Bob was the next to interview him. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received.

You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. with a forced and grisly calm.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. where Mike left him. Only our first. as far as I can see. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. "It was absolutely my fault. "If it hadn't been for me. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven." said Burgess. this wouldn't have happened. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him." "Oh. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. plunged in meditation. "What's up?" asked Bob.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School." he said at length. They walked on without further Wain's gate. "It was all my fault. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. "Nothing much. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. That's all. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. "I say. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. Well." "Neville-Smith! Why." said Mike. way. In extra on Saturday. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. I don't know. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. by the way. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it." . There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. Bob. "Only that. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. Jackson. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished.

As a matter of fact. "I wanted to see you. All these things seemed to show that Mr. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. Spenlow. Mike." "By Jove. I may hold a catch for a change. Mike was just putting on his pads.C. made.C. that's to say. So Mr. where countless sheep lived and had their being. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. did he?" Mike.C. And he can ride. presumably on business. glad to be there again. well. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. the door of which that cautious pedagogue."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. who believed in taking no chances." "Oh. He's a jolly good shot. to start with. his father had gone over there for a visit. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. and once. Stronger than the one we drew with. I know. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. Like Mr.C. It's about Wyatt." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. "I say. for lack of anything better to say. They whacked the M. from all accounts. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. Wain's dressing-room. He must be able to work it. as most other boys of his age would have been. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. he'd jump at anything. If it comes off. . three years ago. "Very. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. too. Jolly hot team of M." "By Jove." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. I've thought of something. Bob went on his way to the nets." Burgess grunted. or was being. He never chucked the show altogether." said Bob. I should think. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. he had a partner. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. the Argentine Republic. I'll write to father to-night. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge.

Well... but to the point." "Play football?" "Yes. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. Sportsman?" "Yes. Wyatt's letter was longer.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. These letters he would then stamp. but that. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger." "H'm . which had run as follows: "Mr." After which a Mr. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. sir." "Cricketer?" "Yes. In any case he would buy him a lunch. Racquets?" "Yes. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. Mr. sir. Jackson's letter was short. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. sir." "Everything?" "Yes.." "H'm . sir. He said that he hoped something could be managed.. sir. you won't get any more of it now. sir." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. and subsequently take in bundles to the . Wyatt?" "Yes." "H'm . It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. by a Beginner.. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit..

as a member of the staff. office." said Burgess. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. "I should win the toss to-day. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me." said Mr. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. Still. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. when the match was timed to begin. by J. But it doesn't seem in my line. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. To do only averagely well. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. sir. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. match. and go in first." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. "I should cook the accounts." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. The Ripton match was a special event. Even twenty. Burgess. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. It would just suit him. if the sun comes out. if it got the school out of a tight place. "Or even Wyatt. Spence. to be among the ruck.C. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. Burgess?" . At eleven-thirty." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. Spence. would be as useless as not playing at all. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. 'Hints for Young Criminals. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. Burgess. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. It was a day on which to win the toss. was not slow to recognise this fact. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground.' which is a sort of start. inspecting the wicket with Mr. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. Mind you make a century. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. if I were you. It had stopped late at night. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. Honours were heaped upon him. Wyatt. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds." Mr. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. There were twelve colours given three years ago. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. I suppose." wrote Wyatt. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. "Who will go on first with you. "Just what I was thinking.C.' So long.

A boy called de Freece. You call. He wasn't in the team last year. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. the Ripton captain. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine." "You'll put us in. "One consolation is. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling." said Burgess. Ellerby. I've lost the toss five times running. They had been at the same private school. were old acquaintances. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. This end. and comes in instead. "It's a nuisance too. that's a ." said Burgess. He was crocked when they came here." "Well." "I must win the toss. about our batting." "I should." said Maclaine." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. so I was bound to win to-day. I don't know of him. win the toss. Looks as if it were going away. On a dry. it might have been all right. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. "We'll go in first. The other's yours." "Oh. I believe. And. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. above all. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. "but I think we'll toss. It's a hobby of mine. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. He's a pretty useful chap all round. though. I think. of the Bosanquet type." "Tails it is." "I don't think a lot of that. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this." "I know the chap. well. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. Plays racquets for them too." "Heads. "Certainly. Mac."Who do you think." said Burgess ruefully. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance.

Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. The score mounted rapidly. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. Burgess. The change worked. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. Twenty came in ten minutes. Maclaine. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. seventy-four for three wickets. At sixty Ellerby. held it. which was now shining brightly. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. as he would want the field paved with it. Burgess began to look happier. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. and Bob. The policy proved successful for a time. as also happened now. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. So Ripton went in to hit. Dashing tactics were laid aside. The sun. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. The pitch had begun to play tricks. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. They plodded on. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. and was certain to get worse. he was compelled to tread cautiously. but the score. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. Buck up and send some one in. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. Then . gave place to Grant. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two.comfort. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. Another hour of play remained before lunch. run out. They meant to force the game." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. but it means that wickets will fall. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. as it did on this occasion. but which did not always break. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. and let's get at you. as it generally does.

A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. the ten minutes before lunch. and it will be their turn to bat. for the last ten minutes. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. The last man had just gone to the wickets. That period which is always so dangerous. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. it was not a yorker. and with it the luncheon interval. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. he explained to Mike. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. So far it was anybody's game. medium-paced yorker. and his one hit. they resent it. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. who had gone on again instead of Grant. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. as they walked . when the wicket is bad. when Ellerby. found his leg-stump knocked back. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. Just a ball or two to the last man. a semicircular stroke. it was not straight. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. swiping at it with a bright smile. but he had also a very accurate eye. the slow bowler. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. Every run was invaluable now. His record score. He bowled a straight. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. when a quarter to two arrived. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. The other batsman played out the over. A four and a three to de Freece. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity.Ellerby. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. did what Burgess had failed to do. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. He had made twenty-eight. came off with distressing frequency. missed his second. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. And when he bowled a straight ball. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. and de Freece.

On a bad wicket--well. Hullo. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. "That chap'll have Berry. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. for this or any the pavilion. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. You must look out for that. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. It would have been a gentle canter for them." he said." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. would be anything record-breaking. But ordinary standards would not apply here. "Thought the thing was going to break. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. Morris was the tenth case. "Morris is out. but it didn't. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. He breaks like sin all over the shop. rather than confidence that their best. if he doesn't look out. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. Berridge. A grim determination to do their best. First ball. "L. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. Berry? He doesn't always break. Berry. and not your legs. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. For goodness sake. "It's that googly man. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion." said Burgess helpfully. stick a bat in the way. hard condition. when Morris was seen to leave the crease.-w. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. . and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven.-b." said Burgess blankly. and make for the pavilion. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. The tragedy started with the very first ball. He thought it was all right. when done.-w." "Hear that.-b. he said. But Berridge survived the ordeal.

Ellerby took off his pads. "It's getting trickier every minute." he said. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. No. He was in after Bob.." . dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. jumping out to drive. "The only thing is. and the second tragedy occurred. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. "One for two. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. Bob's out!. he isn't.This brought Marsh to the batting end. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and scoring a couple of twos off it. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. Last man duck. Mike was silent and thoughtful. Bob was the next man in. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. but it was considerably better than one for two. if we can only stay in. The wicket'll get better.." said Ellerby. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. He had then. broke it. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. He sent them down medium-pace. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. Ten for two was not good. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over." Ellerby echoed the remark. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. Mike nodded. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. but this the next ball. With the score Freece. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. "This is all right. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. He got up. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. By George. The cloud began to settle again. The voice of the scorer. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. stumped. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. he was smartly at thirty. we might have a chance. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. He started to play forward. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. The last of the over had him in two minds. and took off his blazer.

54. Mike." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. "I'm going to shove you down one. The wicket-keeper." said Ellerby. as Ellerby had done. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass." said Mike. as if it were some one else's. But now his feelings were different. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed." "All right. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. He came to where Mike was sitting. There was no sense of individuality. on the board. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. Every little helps.C. and had nearly met the same fate. Jackson. however. Oh. which was repeated. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. ." he said. I believe we might win yet." said Mike. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. "Good man. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. He was cool. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. _fortissimo_." said Ellerby. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. more by accident than by accurate timing. the batsmen crossed. Berridge was out by a yard. "That's the way I was had.. When he had gone out to bat against the M.. If only somebody would knock him off his length.C.. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. you silly ass. 5. and try and knock that man de Freece off." said Ellerby. had fumbled the ball. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. was not conscious of any particular nervousness.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. "Forty-one for four. 12. when." "Bob's broken his egg. The melancholy youth put up the figures. A howl of delight went up from the school. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke.

and hit it before it had time to break. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. Indeed. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. but this time off the off-stump. It pitched slightly to leg. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. finer players. He knew what to do now.Fitness. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. The next ball was of the same length. It has nothing. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. as he settled himself to face the bowler. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. Mike had faced half-left. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. or very little. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. And Mike took after Joe. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. considering his pace. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. and whipped in quickly. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were.-w. a comfortable three.-b. apparently. and not short enough to take liberties with. He felt that he knew where he was now. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. Mike jumped out. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. But something seemed to whisper to him. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. The ball hit his right pad. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. . or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. in school matches. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. Joe would be in his element. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. The umpire shook his head. to do with actual health. De Freece said nothing. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. and he had smothered them. that he was at the top of his batting form. They had been well pitched up. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. and stepped back.

Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. . A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. Mike could see him licking his lips. or he's certain to get out. he lifted over the other boundary. Henfrey. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. At a hundred and four. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. (Two years later. however. but he was full of that conviction. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. but he was uncertain. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. "Sixty up. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. To-day he never looked like settling down. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. for neither Ashe. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. He had made twenty-six. the score mounted to eighty. He had an excellent style. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. And. and de Freece's pet googly. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. There was nervousness written all over him. in the pavilion. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. the next man in. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. and made twenty-one. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. mainly by singles. a half-volley to leg. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six." said Ellerby. "Don't say that.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. He survived an over from de Freece. But Mike did not get out. For himself he had no fear now. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. thence to ninety. he made a lot of runs. was a promising rather than an effective bat. that this was his day. to a hundred. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. It was a long-hop on the off. His departure upset the scheme of things. Practically they had only one. The last ball of the over. He might possibly get out off his next ball. Apparently. In the present case." "You ass." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. which comes to all batsmen on occasion.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. nor Grant. and the wicket was getting easier. and so. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall." said Berridge.

The last ball of the over he mishit. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. . It rolled in the direction of third man. "Come on. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. The next over was doubly sensational.. But each time luck was with him. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. but this happened now. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account.He was not kept long in suspense. But he did not score. or we're done." said Mike. was well-meaning but erratic." said the umpire. and set his teeth. "collar the bowling all you know.. and he would have been run out. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. Another fraction of a second. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. "For goodness sake. Could he go up to him and explain that he. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously." shouted Grant. A distant clapping from the pavilion. Mike took them. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. I shall get outed first ball. Forty to win! A large order. taken up a moment later all round the ground. But it was going to be done. The fast bowler. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. "Over. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. As it was. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. and it was possible to take liberties. but even so." "All right. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. announced that he had reached his fifty. Jackson. he stopped it. But the sixth was of a different kind. it all but got through Mike's defence. The wicket was almost true again now." he whispered.. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. and a school prefect to boot. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty.

Devenish's face was a delicate grey. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. It was young Jackson. Grant looked embarrassed. The school broke into one great howl of joy. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over." continued he. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. There were still seven runs between them and victory." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. He bowled rippingly. rough luck on de Freece. A great stillness was over all the ground. The fifth curled round his bat. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. Brother of the other one. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . and rolled back down the pitch. by the way?" "Eighty-three. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch." "The funny part of it is. It was an awe-inspiring moment. Point and the slips crowded round. The next moment the crisis was past. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. but determined. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. and the bowling was not de Freece's." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad." said Maclaine. Mike's knees trembled. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. * * * * * "Good game. Mike had got the bowling." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. For four balls he baffled the attack. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over." said Maclaine. and touched the off-stump. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. A bail fell silently to the ground. I say. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck.

" . The rest. Mrs." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. "Bush-ray. Jackson. Mike. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. Mr. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. referred to in a previous chapter. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. had settled down to serious work. Mike's place was still empty. He's been wounded in a duel." "I wish Mike would come and open it. including Gladys Maud. "Bush-ray. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "Sorry I'm late." she shouted. bush-ray. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. but expects to be fit again shortly." said Phyllis. "He gives no details. in a victory for Marjory. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. through the bread-and-milk. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. interested. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. The hour being nine-fifteen. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man." said Mr. Mike read on." said Ella. "Bushrangers. "There's a letter from Wyatt. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them.It was a morning in the middle of September. The Jacksons were breakfasting." added Phyllis. "Is there?" said Mike. Jackson) had resulted. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman." said Marjory. conversationally." He opened the letter and began to read. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. bush-ray. who had duly secured the stakes. "I've had a letter from MacPherson." began Gladys Maud." explained Gladys Maud. "Buck up. Jackson was reading letters. but was headed off." "With a bushranger.

Missed the first shot. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. It happened like this. proceeded to cut the fence.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. Well. which has crocked me for the time being. so he came to us and told us what had happened. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help." said Mike. and his day's work was done.. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here.. I thought he was killed at first. and it was any money on the Gaucho. Here you are. and missed him clean every time. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. "I told you it was a duel. This is what he says. and that's when the trouble began. That's the painful story. it was practically a bushranger. and so it was. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. and dropped poor old Chester. Hurt like sin afterwards. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. I say. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. Jackson. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. an Old Wykehamist. Chester was unconscious. A chap called Chester. So this rotter. a good chap who can't help being ugly. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. Jackson. and I were dipping sheep close by. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder.. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly.. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. and tooled after him. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths.." said Phyllis. After a bit we overtook him. which had fallen just by where I came down. I picked it up. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. and coming back. We nipped on to a couple of horses. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. and loosed off. so excuse bad writing. He fired as we came up. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards.. he wanted to ride through our place. instead of shifting off. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . pulled out our revolvers. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. I got going then. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. so I shall have to stop. Only potted him in the leg. summing up. and go through that way. "No." said Marjory. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. but it turned out it was only his leg. "Anyhow.

I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. "Hullo. as Mr. while Marjory. that's a comfort. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. She had adopted him at an early age. jumping up as he entered. It's the first I've had from Appleby. fetching and carrying for Mike." said Marjory. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer." Mike seemed concerned. and did the thing thoroughly. Jackson had disappeared." Marjory was bustling about. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope." "No." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. she would do it only as a favour. "I say." she said." "Have you? Thanks awfully. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays." said Mike philosophically. as she always did. Blake used to write when you were in his form. the meal was nearly over. even for Joe. When he came down on this particular morning. Mr. He looked up interested. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. Father didn't say anything. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." "He didn't mean it really. as usual." she said. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. though for the others. but Mike was her favourite. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. "Your report came this morning. "I'm a bit late." ." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. Mrs. looked on in a detached sort of way. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. Mike. taking his correspondence with him. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. She was fond of her other brothers. But he was late. Mike.

C." "What for?" "I don't know. who treated his sons as companions. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser." was his muttered exclamation. was not returning next term. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. and now he had the strength as well. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. By the way. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. "in a beastly wax. "You _are_. At night sometimes he would lie awake. was delighted. Mr. He had filled out in three years. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Mike. "you'll make a century every match next term. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket." he said. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. He liked the prospect. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. Let's go and see. From time to time. She was kept busy. I've been hunting for you. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. It was early in the Easter holidays. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. Master Mike. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. Phyllis met him. He had always had the style. and Mike was to reign in his stead. Everybody says you are." "Where?" "He's in the study. however. As he was walking towards the house. Why. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that.C." "Saunders is a jolly good chap." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. indeed. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. father wants you." Mike's jaw fell slightly. "Oh. but already he was beginning to find his form. on the arrival of Mr." Henfrey. appalled by the fear of losing his form. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. it's a beastly responsibility."What ho!" interpolated Mike. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M." "I wish I wasn't. Saunders. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. minor match type. He seems--" added Phyllis.

very poor. with a sort of sickly interest. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. but on several occasions.previous term. It was on this occasion that Mr. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. therefore. "'His conduct. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning.'" quoted Mr. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. kicking the waste-paper basket. "'French bad." "'Latin poor. what is more. Greek. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "I want you to listen to this report. Jackson. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings." "Here are Mr. skilled in omens. "Come in. "your report. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. Book Two." "'Mathematics bad.'" "We were doing Thucydides." "Oh. both in and out of school. he paused. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket." said Mr. There followed an awkward silence. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. "It is. not once." said his father." Mike. father?" said Mike.'" "It wasn't anything really. is that my report. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. that Jackson entered the study." "Oh. Jackson in measured tones. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. scented a row in the offing. "I want to speak to you. Jackson was a man of his word." replied Mr. and Mr. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. Mike. Jackson. Inattentive and idle. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. .

spectacled youth who did not enter . but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. and for that reason he said very little now. Mr.' There is more to the same effect. Mike?" said Mr. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. but it has one merit--boys work there. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. Mike's point of view was plain to him." Mike's heart thumped. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Jackson was sorry for Mike." he said. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. and there was an end of it. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. Mike said nothing. "I shall abide by what I said. birds were twittering. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. Mr. He did not approve of it. He understood cricket. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. perhaps. his father. The tragedy had happened. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat." he said blankly. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. He knew it would be useless. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. a silent. He understood him. but still blithely). pure and simple." Barlitt was the vicar's son. "It is not a large school. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth." Mr. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. when he made up his mind. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year." was his next remark. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. or their Eight to Bisley. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. and Mr. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. Jackson. "I am sending you to Sedleigh." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining.

CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. sir. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. George!" "I'll walk. The future seemed wholly gloomy. sir. sir. A sombre nod. "For the school." said Mike frigidly. sir. and the man who took his ticket. And." "Worse luck. his appearance. sir. Mike nodded." "Thank you. and Mike. Mike said nothing. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. but not much conversation had ensued." added Mr. got up. "It's a goodish step. Then he got out himself and looked about him. for instance. Barlitt's mind was massive. "So you're back from Moscow. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. It's straight on up this road to the school. and said. sorrier for himself than ever. thanks. It's waiting here. so far from attempting to make the best of things. sir. Hi." "Here you are. bustling up. He disliked his voice. He thought. He hated the station. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. He walked off up the road. "Mr. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters." said Mike. "Young gents at the school. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. Also the boots he wore. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. It was such . seeing the name of the station. Jackson.very largely into Mike's world." "Right. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said." said the porter. sir. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. pulled up again. opened the door. You can't miss it. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. and the colour of his hair. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties.

and had lost both the Ripton matches. if he survived a few overs. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Outwood. Which was the bitter part of it. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. but almost as good. but he was not to be depended upon. too. free bat on his day. And now. Burgess. who would be captain in his place. The football fifteen had been hopeless. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. He inquired for Mr. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. the return by over sixty points. would be weak this year. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. Outwood's was the middle one of these. might make a century in an hour. This must be Sedleigh. Enderby. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. But it was not the same thing. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Mike went to the front door. now that he was no longer there. from the top of a hill. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. Outwood's. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. on top of all this. And as captain of cricket. Outwood. at that. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr.absolutely rotten luck. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. Now it might never be used. sir. He had never been in command. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. Wrykyn. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. "Jackson?" he said mildly." . and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. going in first. and the house-master appeared. "Yes. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. and. and knocked. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. There were three houses in a row. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. Once he crossed a river. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. and was shown into a room lined with books. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. Presently the door opened. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. About now. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. Strachan was a good.

" said the immaculate one. Jackson. I understand. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. My name. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. Oh. then. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. What's yours?" ." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. very glad indeed." he added pensively. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. his gloom visibly deepened. Bishop Geoffrey. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. It will well repay a visit. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. He spoke in a tired voice. and fixed it in his right eye. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Jackson. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. Ambrose. In many respects it is unique. was leaning against the mantelpiece. thin youth. You come from Crofton. As Mike entered. Quite so. I think you might like a cup of tea. Good-bye for the present. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. in Shropshire. "is Smith. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. sir?" "What? Yes. But this room was occupied. You will find the matron in her room. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. That sort of idea. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. Jackson. "Hullo. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. A very long. "Hullo. "Take a seat. finding his bearings." he said. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St." said Mike. He strayed about. standing quite free from the apse wall. yes. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. said he had not. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. A Nursery Garden in the Home. that's to say. All alone in a strange school. with chamfered plinth. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. he spoke. good-bye. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. Quite so. where they probably played hopscotch. Personally. It was a little hard. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide."I am very glad to see you.

Cp. "No. everybody predicting a bright career for me. the name Zbysco. If you ever have occasion to write to me. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. Sit down on yonder settee. the P not being sounded. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. We now pass to my boyhood." "But why Sedleigh. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. too. I shall found a new dynasty. then?" "Yes! Why. "but I've only just arrived." "Bad luck." "No?" said Mike. "Let us start at the beginning. "My infancy. the Pride of the School. before I start. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. or simply Smith. and see that I did not raise Cain. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. See?" Mike said he saw. By the way. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six." said Psmith solemnly. I was sent to Eton. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. "Are you the Bully. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h." "For Eton." said Mike. there's just one thing. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. But what Eton loses.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. Sedleigh gains." said Mike." he resumed. and I will tell you the painful story of my life." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. . so I don't know. But. I was superannuated last term. "it was not to be. When I was but a babe. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. and got it. and I don't care for Smythe. for choice. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. See? There are too many Smiths. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. yes. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. At an early age.

Lost lambs. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith." . but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life."That was the man. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. mark you. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry." said Psmith. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. dusting his right trouser-leg. You work for the equal distribution of property. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. Bit off his nut." "And thereby. Sheep that have gone astray. will you? I've just become a Socialist. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. who told my father. We are companions in misfortune. He could almost have embraced Psmith. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. To get off cricket. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. "hangs a tale. A noble game. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. We are practically long-lost brothers. It's a great scheme. prowling about. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes." "Wrykyn. together we may worry through. laddie. we fall. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. Cheer a little. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. and so on." "I am with you. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. Now tell me yours. who told our vicar. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. There's a libel action in every sentence. The vicar told the curate. Jawed about apses and things. We must stick together. but a bit too thick for me. The son of the vicar. "You have heard my painful story. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place." said Psmith. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. There's an Archaeological Society in the school." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. Divided. Comrade Jackson. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. Outwood. And. run by him. You ought to be one. It goes out on half-holidays. who told our curate.

"is the exact programme. It was a biggish room. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. Psmith opened the first of these. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. and get our names shoved down for the Society. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. at any rate. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. "This'll do us well." "Then let's beat up a study. "'Tis well. we will go out of bounds. "Stout fellow." said Psmith. This is practical Socialism. A chap at Wrykyn. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. and a looking-glass." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. and one not without its meed of comfort. hand in hand. and have a jolly good time as well. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. There were a couple of deal tables. looking out over the school grounds. We shall thus improve our minds. as it were. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. We will snare the elusive fossil together." he said." "Good idea." . and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. two empty bookcases. "Might have been made for us. Psmith approved the resolve. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys." he said." "It would take a lot to make me do that. You and I. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. Above all. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." said Mike. and do a bit on our own account." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. was one way of treating the situation. hung on a nail." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. "We will. We must stake out our claims." "Not now. I suppose they have studies here. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter." said Mike."I'm not going to play here. called Wyatt. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood." They went upstairs. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. and straightening his tie." said Psmith approvingly. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. Let's go and look.

but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. There are moments when one wants to be alone. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. "You couldn't make a long arm. Hullo. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. That putrid calendar must come down. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. sits down. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. Similarly. I had several bright things to say on the subject. and a voice outside said. somebody comes right in." said Mike. if you want to be really useful. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them." said Psmith sympathetically. He was full of ideas. could you. What's this. We make progress. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. was rather a critic than an executant."His misfortune. though. and begins to talk about himself. We make progress." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. not ours. "are the very dickens. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. Do you think you could make a long arm. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day." A heavy body had plunged against the door. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. A rattling at the handle followed. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place." said Psmith. "Privacy. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn." "These school reports. though the idea was Psmith's. the first thing you know is." said Psmith. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study." . I wonder. And now. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. "The weed. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. It's got an Etna and various things in it. as he watched Mike light the Etna.

Comrade Spiller. Edwin!' And so." "My name's Spiller. Homely in appearance. but one of us. 'Edwin. Psmith rose courteously from his chair." Psmith went to the table. that's what I call it. "It's beastly cheek. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. and flung it open. "you stayed on till the later train. and screamed. and this is my study. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked." said he.Mike unlocked the door. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. "In this life. and. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly." said Psmith. "What the dickens. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). and said." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. you find strange faces in the familiar room." said Psmith. 'Don't go. "It's beastly cheek." said Psmith. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece." said Psmith.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. 'Edwin. Your father held your hand and said huskily. A stout fellow. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. perhaps. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. we must be prepared for every emergency. "to restore our tissues after our journey. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. But no. freckled boy." he repeated. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. "Well. Spiller evaded the question. Come in and join us. put up his eyeglass. We keep open house." "But we do. He went straight to the root of the matter. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. I am Psmith." inquired the newcomer. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. practical order. deeply affected by his recital. on arrival. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. a people that know not Spiller. all might have been well. it's beastly cheek. we Psmiths. It is unusual for people to go about the place . "You can't go about the place bagging studies.

of course." said Psmith. let this be a lesson to you." The trio made their way to the Presence.' Take the present case. We may as well all go together. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. Spiller." "Spiller's." Mr. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. "And Smith. and I'm next on the house list. One's the foot-brake. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. "All I know is." said Psmith. sir." "But what steps. "Ah. 'I wouldn't. I'm going to have it. "are you going to take? Spiller." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. it's my study. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. Mr. Psmith particularly debonair. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible.bagging studies. By no means a scaly project. and Jackson. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all." "Look here.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. and we stopped dead. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. He cannot cope with the situation. we know. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. Mike sullen. and the other's the accelerator. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said.' So he stamped on the accelerator. and skidded into a ditch. you are unprepared. the man of Logic. Error! Ah." "Not an unsound scheme. Spiller. As it is.' he said. He hummed lightly as he walked. Spiller pink and determined." he said. and Simpson's left. The thing comes on you as a surprise. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. 'Now we'll let her rip. . It was Simpson's last term. so. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. Spiller. But what of Spiller. 'I couldn't.

Downing. sir. Mr. quite so. never had any difficulty in finding support. "Yes." "Please. Is there anything----" "Please." pursued Psmith earnestly. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. two miles from the school. sir. Spiller." said Psmith. "that accounts for it. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez." "There is no vice in Spiller. very pleased indeed. sir--" said Spiller." "Oh." "Please. sir." "Undoubtedly. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. while his own band. appeared to be the main interest in their lives."Er--quite so. "I am delighted. "Yes. This enthusiasm is most capital. I--er--in a measure look after it. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. I will put down your name at once. Most delighted. "I understand. I am very pleased. games that left him cold. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. Smith?" "Intensely. His colleague. This is capital. Spiller." "Spiller. Smith. Archaeology fascinates me. We have a small Archaeological Society. Outwood beamed. sir." "Not at all. Cricket and football." said Psmith. Smith. tolerantly." "Ah. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. Smith. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. if you were not too busy. not at all. were in the main earnest." he said. "His heart is the heart of a little child. "One moment." Mr." "And Jackson's. he is one of our oldest members. "One moment." ." "Jackson." said Psmith sadly. though small. Smith. A grand pursuit." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. sir--" said Spiller. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. too!" Mr. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. Boys came readily at his call. Do you want to join. sir. "I have been unable to induce to join." he said at last. sir. sir--" began Spiller. Mr. sir.

very trying for a man of culture. Spiller. "One moment. Outwood." "Yes." "Quite so. sir--" said Spiller. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. as they closed the door. "is your besetting fault." said Psmith. I come next after Simpson." he said." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Quite so. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. sir. Spiller. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. sir. Correct it. if you could spare the time. "Please. sir. Edwin." said Psmith. "There is just one other matter." He turned to Mr. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday." "Thank you very much. Spiller." "Capital!" "Please. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. Smith. sir." "Quite so. Spiller." said Mike. of course. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. sir. You should have spoken before. sir. We will move our things in. "We should. Smith." "All this sort of thing. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. sir. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. "This tendency to delay. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list." shouted Spiller." "Thank you very much. Fight against it. A very good idea. sir. An excellent arrangement. sir." "Certainly. always be glad to see Spiller in our study."We shall be there. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. "is very. Smith." "But.

We are as sons to him. and this time there followed a knocking. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. I don't like rows." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. as you rightly remark. face the future for awhile. there is nothing he can deny us. jam a chair against it." he said with approval. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. "The difficulty is. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. "about when we leave this room." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off." he said. This place would have been wasted on Spiller." Mike was finishing his tea. I mean. we're all right while we stick here. and we can lock that. Smith. I say. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. but we can't stay all night." As they got up. Here we are in a stronghold. he would not have appreciated it properly. but we must rout him out once more." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. with your permission. they can only get at us through the door. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories." said Psmith. "We will now." "The loss was mine. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night." "And jam a chair against it. Comrade Jackson. "We ought to have known each other before. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. . the door handle rattled again. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. though." "_And_. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this."There are few pleasures." said Psmith courteously.

" said Psmith approvingly. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." said Psmith. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike." said Psmith." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. in his practical way." "Sturdy common sense. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. "If you move a little to the left. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. for instance." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. then?" asked Mike. "Let us parley with the man. say. only it belongs to three ." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." "How many _will_ there be. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." he explained. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character." said Mike. "He might get about half a dozen. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." "Old Spiller. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. with." "As I suspected. "I just came up to have a look at you."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." giggled Jellicoe." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out." sighed Psmith. not more." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." Mike unlocked the door." said Psmith. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." said Psmith.

" said Psmith." Mr. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. it will save trouble. Better leave the door open. The handle began to revolve again. "are beginning to move.chaps." he said. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. I like to see it--I like to see it." he said." "I believe in the equal distribution of property." "And we can have the room. Comrade Spiller. if you would have any objection to Jackson. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. and some other chaps. as the messenger departed. sir----" "Not at all. "Yes. but shall be delighted to see him up here. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." "We were wondering. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. I think." "You make friends easily. as they returned to the study." "And now. "That door. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. "We must apologise for disturbing you. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Ah." This time it was a small boy. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. Smith. Smith. the others waited outside. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. Smith?" he said. "has sprung up between Jackson." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone." said Psmith." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. Things." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. come in." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. sir. crowding . Jellicoe and myself.

"They'll have it down. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him." said Spiller. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. was it? Well. "We must act. Mike. As Mike arrived. but it was needless. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. turning after re-locking the door. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. His was a simple and appreciative mind. always." said Psmith approvingly. "Come on. slammed the door and locked it. "Look here. the captive was already on the window-sill. you chaps. Comrade Spiller. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. For a moment the doorway was blocked." said Mike. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. I say. "A neat piece of work." cried Spiller suddenly. The dogs of war are now loose. Mike jumped to help. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. Jellicoe giggled in the background. "Robinson. the enemy gave back. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. and Mike. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr." "You'll get it hot. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door." A heavy body crashed against the door. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. if you don't. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson." "We'll risk it. swung open. "Who was our guest?" he asked. was just in time to see Psmith. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. stepping into the room again. and then to stand by for the next the doorway." said Jellicoe. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. however. instead of resisting. the door. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. This time. and the handle. but Mike had been watching. . the first shot has been fired. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass.

His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night." A bell rang in the distance. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. I shouldn't think. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. "No. we will play the fixture on our own ground." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. "is exciting. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. ." said Mike. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. Well. "You'd better come out. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. but Psmith was in his element.Somebody hammered on the door." said Psmith." "This. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. you know. they were first out of the room." said Jellicoe. leaning against the mantelpiece. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. of course. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. "There's no harm in going out. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. When they had been in the study a few moments. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould." "They won't do anything till after tea. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. we would be alone. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. and have it out?" said Mike." "Leave us." Mike followed the advice. Spiller's face was crimson. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash." said Mike. Jellicoe knocked at the door. and see what happens. "Tea. Spiller. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. but it can't go on. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room." The passage was empty when they opened the door." he said. It read: "Directly this is over. "we shall have to go now.

And now. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. "And touching. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. "only he won't." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. We shall be glad of his moral support. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room." "Then I think." This appears to be a thoroughly nice." said Mike. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. As to the time when an attack might be expected. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. He never hears anything. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. Shall we be moving?" Mr. well-conducted establishment. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime." said Jellicoe. they rag him." said Psmith placidly. as predicted by Jellicoe. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. but otherwise. deposed that Spiller. and disappeared again. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. that human encyclopaedia. closing the door. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better."Quite right. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started." said Psmith. retiring at ten. where Robinson also had a bed. he'll simply sit tight. It was probable. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. "the matter of noise. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening." said Psmith. Mr. . _ne pas_. therefore.

He would then----" "I tell you what. . which is close to the door. There were three steps leading down to it. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. too. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. as on this occasion."How about that door?" said Mike. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. There was a creaking sound." said Psmith. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. especially if." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. "Dashed neat!" he said. waiting for him. "These humane preparations being concluded. "we will retire to our posts and wait. they may wait at the top of the steps. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. If they have no candle. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. but far otherwise. silence is essential. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. too. directly he heard the door-handle turned. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. showed that Jellicoe. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. listening. had heard the noise. Comrade Jellicoe. I always ask myself on these occasions." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. I have evolved the following plan of action. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. Subject to your approval. Mike was tired after his journey. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. and a slight giggle." said Mike. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. Comrade Jackson. Napoleon would have done that. If they have. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

nothing else. The more new blood we have. sir. I suppose you will both play. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. It gets him into idle. I was referring to the principle of the thing. Let's go on and see what sort . Outwood last night. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started." sighed Psmith. "I don't like it. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. shaking his head." said Psmith. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. Downing vehemently. We are. Comrade Outwood loves us. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. I like every new boy to begin at once. not wandering at large about the country. We want keenness here." "At any rate.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. "I saw Adair speaking to you. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. with fervour." He stumped off." "We are. we went singing about the house. A short. I fear. I want every boy to be keen. too. to an excitable bullfinch. sir. looking after him." Adair turned. and walked on. the Archaeological Society here." said Psmith. Archaeology is a passion with us. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here." "I never loaf. "Now _he's_ cross. I tell you I don't like it. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. Scarcely had he gone. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. sir. both in manner and appearance. "If you choose to waste your time. When we heard that there was a society here." said Psmith. eh?" It was a master." said Mr." "Good job. I suppose I can't hinder you. a keen school. loafing habits. But in my opinion it is foolery. sir. "Excellent. sir." "A very wild lot." "On archaeology. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. the better. above all." Mr. "I was not alluding to you in particular.

who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. It was on a Thursday afternoon. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. was a mild. "I _will_ be good. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. that swash-buckling pair. And now he positively ached for a game. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. were both fair batsmen. was a very good bowler indeed. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. Altogether. and Stone was a good slow bowler. It couldn't be done. after watching behind the nets once or twice. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. He did not repeat the experiment. in his three years' experience of the school. after . and Wyatt. mostly in Downing's house. by the law of averages. Stone and Robinson themselves._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. to begin with. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. the head of Outwood's. and Milton. He was a good bat of the old plodding type." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. when the sun shone. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. There were times. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. Barnes. He was not a Burgess. Lead me to the nearest net. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. Adair. There were other exponents of the game. Numbers do not make good cricket. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. What made it worse was that he saw. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. Any sort of a game. Mike would have placed above him. The batting was not so good. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. but there were some quite capable men.

He was embarrassed and nervous. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. and brood apart for awhile. give me the pip. Mike. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. "Go in after Lodge over there. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. could stand it no longer. He went up to Adair. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. Psmith. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. The day was warm. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. to be absolutely accurate. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. let us slip away. and kept them by his aide. "What?" he said. "Having inspired confidence." it may be observed. "This net. but patronising. More abruptly this time. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. from increased embarrassment." he said. "by the docility of our demeanour. Mike walked away without a word. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. Let us find some shady nook where a . Mr. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. This is the real cricket scent. Psmith approached Mike. seemed to enjoy them hugely. and was trying not to show it. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. Roman camps. was the first eleven net. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden." said Adair coldly. He patronised fossils. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. as he sat there watching. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. for Mr. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. He was amiable." "Over there" was the end net. "This is the first eleven net. and he patronised ruins. he would have patronised that. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. Mike repeated his request. He looked up. but Mike almost cried sometimes from

In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing." Mike. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers." he said. dancing in among my . In passing. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. they always liked him. finding this a little dull. Mike sat on for a few minutes. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. jumped the brook. At the further end there was a brook. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. I can tell you." "The dickens you--Why. He came back to where the man was standing. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. and began to explore the wood on the other may lie on his back for a bit." And Psmith. He was a short. "I played against you. and then. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. for the Free Foresters last summer. above all. "And. "A fatiguing pursuit. In the same situation a few years before. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. "I was just having a look round. and sitting down. Looking back. broad young man with a fair moustache. and closed his eyes. hitching up the knees of his trousers. Comrade Jackson. and they strolled away down the hill. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself." said Psmith. He was too late. We will rest here awhile. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. Call me in about an hour. I rather think I'll go to sleep. offered no opposition. and listen to the music of the brook. Mike liked dogs. and trusted to speed to save him. lay down. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. "and no farther. In fact. on acquaintance. this looks a likely spot. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. Ah. Mike would have carried on. and. Mine are like some furrowed field. and began to bark vigorously at him. but he could not place him." said Psmith. Their departure had passed unnoticed. he got up. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. unless you have anything important to say." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. "Thus far.

We all start out together. "I hang out down here. I'm simply dying for a game. you know. By the way." said Mike. He began to talk about himself." "You ought to have had me second ball. but I could nip back. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason." "I'll lend you everything. I'll tell you how it is." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. "So. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. It's just off the London road. * * * * * . The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. but no great shakes." he concluded." "I'll give you all you want. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. I say.nesting pheasants. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. You're Prendergast. if you want me to. only cover dropped it. "Only village." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." "That's all right. Look here. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine." "Thanks. you see." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation." "I'm frightfully sorry. There's a sign-post where you turn off." "I'll play on a rockery. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. turning to the subject next his heart. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. Very keen." And he told how matters stood with him. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. You made fifty-eight not out. By Jove. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground.

They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting." "My lips are sealed. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. punctuated at intervals by crises. employed doing "over-time. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . Mike began. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. sleepily. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. If you like the game. and Mr."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. to enjoy himself. Mr. I think I'll come and watch you. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. Downing. To Mike. I say. "I'm going to play cricket. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team." * * * * * That Saturday. Downing's special care. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye." One of the most acute of these crises. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. never an easy form-master to get on with. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. pompous. for a village near here. but it was a very decent substitute. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. It was. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Jackson. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. To Mr. Mr. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. on being awakened and told the news. M. As time went on. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. and it grew with further acquaintance. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. and the most important. It was not Wrykyn. though he would not have admitted it. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. fussy. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. life can never be entirely grey. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. Downing. don't tell a soul. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. will you? I don't want it to get about. indeed. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. Cricket I dislike. Downing.

light-hearted dog with a white coat. In passing. Wilson. The rest were entirely frivolous. had joined young and worked their way up. sir. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. To-day they were in very fair form. Wilson?" "Please. These two officials were those sportive allies. Outwood. Downing. with a thin green stripe. Stone and Robinson. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. Under them were the rank and file. held up his hand. a tenor voice. He was a large. Sammy was the other. He had long legs. about thirty in all. or Downing. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. of the School House. To show a keenness for cricket was good. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. who." . sir. Downing had closed the minute-book. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all.esteem of Mr. short for Sampson. an engaging expression. and under the captain a vice-captain." Red. spirit. Stone. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. Downing's form-room. "One moment. We will now proceed to the painful details. Sammy. and was apparently made of india-rubber. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. was the Sedleigh colour. The proceedings always began in the same way. of Outwood's house. Downing. who looked on the Brigade in the right. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. a sort of high priest. Downing. Downing pondered "Red. "Well. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. with green stripes. much in request during French lessons. At its head was Mr. under him was a captain. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. sir?" asked Stone. The Brigade was carefully organised. and a particular friend of Mike's. the tongue of an ant-eater. As soon as Mr. "Shall I put it to the vote.

the danger!" "Please. "I don't think my people would be pleased. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. sir. sir. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. Stone." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. perfectly preposterous. Mr. We cannot plunge into needless expense. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. get back to your place. sit down--Wilson. The whole strength of the company: "Please. sir. of course. those against it to the right. of course. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance." said Stone. Stone. and the meeting had divided. Mr." "Please. sir. sir. "Sit down!" he said."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. Downing banged on his desk. sir-r-r!" "But. sir. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. sir. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. listen to me. Well." . the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. sir. please. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers." A scuffling of feet." said Robinson. out of the question. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. Wilson?" "Please." "Please. sir. "Silence!" "Then.

Downing. there must be less of this flippancy." as he reached the door. "Sir.Mr. Downing. "I think it's something outside the window. I'm not making a whining noise. we are busy. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. "Noise. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. "May I fetch a book from my desk. Jackson. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. And. He was not alone. sir?" asked Mike." he said. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. I want you boys above all to be keen. as many Wrykynians . saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. "Our Wilson is facetious. "Very well--be quick. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. Downing smiled a wry smile. sir?" asked Mike." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. The muffled cries grew more distinct. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. mingled with cries half-suppressed. _please_. "do me one hundred lines. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. "A bird. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. puzzled. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. We must have keenness. Downing. sir. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. I think. sir. Those near enough to see. sir-r-r. Wilson!" "Yes." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise." said Stone helpfully. "It's outside the door. sir?" inquired Mike. sir?" said a voice "off." was cut off by the closing door. no." A pained "OO-oo-oo. sir? No." he remarked frostily. sir!" "This moment. Wilson. Mr." said Robinson." "What _sort_ of noise. sir. leave the room!" "Sir. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle.

and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. "to imitate the noise. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. "Perhaps that's it. Downing acidly. Mr. all shouted. I said." added Robinson. the same! Go to your seat. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. among the ruins barking triumphantly. What are you doing. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. you will be severely punished. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun." put in Stone." said the invisible Wilson. sir. _Quietly_. Jackson and Wilson. Chaos reigned. "Stone. Downing's desk resembled thunder. like Marius. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way." "Yes. sir. if you do not sit down. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. others flung books. Come in. Downing shot out orders. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. threats. sit down! Donovan. go quietly from the room. rising from his place." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. each in the manner that seemed proper to him." Crash! . was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. "I do not propose. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo." said Mr. Downing. remain. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. It is a curious whining noise. sir. It was a stirring. Henderson.had asked before him." "Or somebody's boots. all of you. and was now standing. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. bustling scene. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. Some leaped on to forms. "They do sometimes. Vincent." "They are mowing the cricket field. The banging on Mr. Mr. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks.

Jackson. come here. but nevertheless a member. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike." The meeting dispersed. "Jackson and Wilson. everybody. and he came in after the rat. but Mr. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. and had refused to play cricket. and paid very little for it." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. sir. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Jackson." said Wilson. Jackson. Downing walked out of the room. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. Wilson?" "Please. Downing turned to Mike." "I tried to collar him. so he came in." he said. but when you told me to come in. it was true." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. That will do. sir. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. Mr. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. Wilson." said Mike. Mr. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . Mike the dog. Also he kept wicket for the school. Go quietly from the room. Wilson had supplied the rat. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction."Wolferstan. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. frivolous at times." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word." It was plain to Mr. sir. "You may go. too. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. "Well. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. as one who tells of strange things. I had to let him go." And Mr. "One hundred lines. We are a keen school. I fear.

They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . forgotten. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. the return match. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. sorry. Robinson on the table. Stone beamed. by return of post. The fact is. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. without preamble." said Robinson. I'm in a beastly hole. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. You can freeze on to it. "As a matter of fact. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. if you like. contemporary with Julius Caesar. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. But it's about all I have got." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. "I say. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. he would be practically penniless for weeks. Jellicoe came into the room. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. and got up. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. (Which. Mike put down his pen. "You're a sportsman. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. asked for the loan of a sovereign. they should have it.They say misfortunes never come singly. after the Sammy incident. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. it may be stated at once. There was. They sat down. Mike's heart warmed to them. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. he did. Robinson was laughing." "Oh. I do happen to have a quid. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. as a matter of fact. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that." said Mike. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. He was in warlike mood.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. so don't be shy about paying it back. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. and welcomed the intrusion. and. done with. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. He felt that he.

loud and boisterous. "are a rag. Winifred's" brand. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. As for Mike. "I got Saturday afternoon. You can do what you like. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. and a vast store of animal spirits. As to the kind of adventure. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. They were useful at cricket. My pater took me away." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. you could get into some sort of a team. a keen school. If you know one end of a bat from the other. "Well. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view.'" quoted Stone." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. and began to get out the tea-things. "Were you sacked?" "No. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. small and large. and then they usually sober down. he now found them pleasant company. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. They had a certain amount of muscle." said Mike. They go about. Masters were rather afraid of them.public school. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished." "Don't you!" said Mike. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. He got a hundred lines. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread." "'We are. above all." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. and you never get more than a hundred lines. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging." ." said Stone. They were absolutely free from brain.

Stone gaped. look here. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler." agreed Robinson. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. "I did. and the others?" "Brother. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. "Enough for six. and I should have been captain this year. Place called Little Borlock. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. do play. I say." . Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. There are always house matches. I play for a village near here. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. W. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. You _must_ play. "I've got an idea. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day." "Adair sticks on side. yes. Stone broke the silence." "Think of the rag. for a start. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. "Why." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. You don't get ordered about by Adair. and knock the cover off him. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday." "Masters don't play in house matches. Only a friendly. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. "Why. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. but they always have it in the fourth week. if I'd stopped on. My word. He asked me if I'd like some games for them." said Robinson. I say. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." said Stone." said Mike. "By Jove. I was in the team three years." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village." "What!" "Well. We're playing Downing's." said Stone.

JACKSON. "The list isn't up yet." said Mike. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. Most leap at the opportunity. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M." said Mike." They dashed out of the room." he said. Barnes appeared. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. "Are you the M. He studied his _Wisden_. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. and when. but to Mr. on his face the look of one who has seen visions." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. "I say. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. Mr. . I mean. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. quite unexpectedly. and a murmur of excited conversation. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag."But the team's full. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. It was so in Mike's case. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels." "Yes. I was in the team. and make him alter it. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. Then footsteps returning down the passage." he said. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. Downing assumed it. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. "I say. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. Jackson. Mike was not a genuine convert. "Thanks awfully. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. then. THEN.

" "In our house. timidly jubilant. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. except for the creases. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. Your enthusiasm has bounds." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. with a kind of mild surprise. competition is fierce." "Indeed. where the nervous new boy. who was with Mike. 2 manner--the playful. Downing. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. I notice. "What!" he cried. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. Mike. Jackson. becomes the cricketer of to-day. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. Downing's No. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. as captain of cricket. Adair. We are essentially versatile. sir.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. the archaeologist of yesterday. sir. in the way he took . There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. contrives to get an innings in a game. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. "I like to see it. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. on the cricket field. Mike saw. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. Drones are not welcomed by us." he said. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. above all. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. It is the right spirit. "We are. had naturally selected the best for his own match. It was a good wicket. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. sir. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss." said Psmith earnestly. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. working really hard. "a keen house. * * * * * Barnes. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. With Mike it was different. Smith? You are not playing yourself.

He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. Mike went out at it. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. six dangerous balls beautifully played. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. Mr. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. in his stand at the wickets. and dashed up against the rails. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. Mike took guard. and ended with a combination of step and jump. and off the wicket on the on-side. but it stopped as Mr.guard. This time the hope was fulfilled. failed to stop it. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. took three more short steps. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. The ball was well up. Jenkins. they were disappointed. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. A half-volley this time. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. "Get to them. two long steps. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. and mid-on. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. as the ball came . and. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. but the programme was subject to alterations. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. Downing's slows. The ball. and he knew that he was good. The fieldsmen changed over. as several of the other games had not yet begun. when delivered. slow. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. gave a jump. Mike slammed it back. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. Downing irritably. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. The first over was a maiden. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. He took two short steps. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. Mike started cautiously. He had got a sight of the ball now. was billed to break from leg." said Mr. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run.

Mr. uttered with painful distinctness the words. The expected happened. one is inclined to be abrupt. there was a strong probability that Mr. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. without the slightest success. sat on the splice like a limpet. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. it is usually as well to be batting. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. where. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. in addition. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. waited in position for number four. By the time the over was finished. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. if you can manage it. and then retired moodily to cover-point. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. Scared by this escape. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. "Get to them. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. and the total of his side. and bowling well. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. offering no more chances. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. Mike had then made a hundred and three. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning." "Sir. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. Adair came up. and. This happened now with Mr. The third ball was a slow long-hop. Downing.back from the boundary. Downing bowled one more over. by three wides. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. Downing would pitch his next ball short. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. in Adair's fifth over. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. Jenkins. please. Then he looked up. and Mike. . And a shrill small voice. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single.

"Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. "No. having got Downing's up a tree. "I'm not keeping you. thanks. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. As a matter of fact. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. too. Not up to it. "Above it." Adair was silent for a moment. "That's just the gay idea. Three years. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. won't they?" suggested Barnes. "Great Scott. "Sick! I should think they would. politely. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. Mr. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. "Declare!" said Robinson." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. I suppose?" "Not a bit. There's a difference."I didn't say anything of the kind. Downing. The result was that not only he himself. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. Barnes's remark that he supposed. am I?" said Mike. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . but also--which was rather unfair--his house. I said I wasn't going to play here. "I never saw such a chump." said Stone. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism." There was another pause. was met with a storm of opposition. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. Of all masters. and the school noticed it." There was a silence. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation.

going in first early in the morning. and Mike. Besides. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket." "Rather not.15. proceeded to get to business once more. each weirder and more futile than the last. and Stone came out. Nor will Robinson. and that is what happened now. And the rest. Bowlers came and went. that directly he had topped his second century. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. I won't then. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. At four o'clock. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. Adair. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. it was assumed by the field. Barnes. in one of which a horse. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much.30. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6." said Barnes unhappily. Play was resumed at 2. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. In no previous Sedleigh match. "Only you know they're rather sick already." "Well. Mr. greatly daring. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. Time. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. after a full day's play.can. if I can get it. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. But still the first-wicket stand continued. playing himself in again. the small change. was bowling really well." "Don't you worry about that. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. amidst applause. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. Games had frequently been one-sided. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. These are the things which mark epochs." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. "If you declare. Downing took a couple more overs. fortified by food and rest. The first-change pair are poor. or when one is out without one's gun." said Stone with a wide grin. I swear I won't field. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. mercifully. tried their luck. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished." said Robinson. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. passing in the road." "So do I. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished.

. J..... some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain.. Downing. not out. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. There was no reply. but an excellent eye.. Stone. too. nearly weeping with pure joy.. there was on view. But the next ball was bowled. sir. _b_.." snapped Mr. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. Mike's pace had become slower.. "Capital.. The game has become a farce. and Stone. as who should say. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. First innings. capital.. and the next over..) A grey dismay settled on the field.. not out. DOWNING'S _Outwood's. Barnes.. "This is foolery." "This is absurd. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. sir. but his score.. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.... as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. 124 . a slip of paper.. P. sir.. as a matter of fact.. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type... Lobs were being tried... "Barnes!" he called.." said Stone.. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad.. And now let's start _our_ innings. 33 M. You must declare your innings closed. as was only natural." Mr.. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's.." "Absurd.way.." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. and still Barnes made no sign.. a week later.. Hammond. _c_..." "He's very touchy.. He had an unorthodox style... and the next after that.. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force... Hassall. we can't unless Barnes does.. was mounting steadily. Downing walked moodily to his place. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was... "Barnes!" "Please." "It is perfect foolery." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. "I think Barnes must have left the field. just above the mantelpiece." "Declare! Sir... 277 W._ J. Jackson.

is.. could have been the Petted Hero. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind... it's worth it. fagged as he was.." murmured Mike. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel." "I don't care. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. touched me This interested Mike.. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. On the other hand." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. Downing... In fact. When all ringing with song and merriment. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket. slipping his little hand in mine." said he. I should say that. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair.. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. would have made Job foam at the mouth. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you... for three quid. Comrade Jellicoe and.... not to mention three wides. in a small way... But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open.. "In theory. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. Twenty-eight off one over." he said. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. Psmith.." . I suppose....... "the the place was crept to my side.. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day.. if he had cared to take the part. You will probably get sacked.. Mike. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot... here and there.. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out... "In an ordinary way. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. shifting his aching limbs in the chair." "He doesn't deserve to. 471 Downing's did not bat..Extras. But your performance was cruelty to animals. leaning against the mantelpiece. and Mike...

There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. I'm stiff all over. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. and then dropped gently off."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. I can't get to sleep." "Nor can I. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. Jackson!" he said. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. but he could not sleep. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. wrapped in gloom. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. nothing." There was a creaking. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. when he's collected enough for his needs. as the best substitute for sleep." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. "Are you asleep. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. I hope. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. he'll pay me back a bit. clinking sovereigns." * * * * * a log. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. It was done on the correspondence system." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. Well. He wanted four. Psmith chatted for general. . the various points of his innings that day." Silence again. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. "I say. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. who appeared to be to the conversation. We may be helping towards furnishing the home." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. I'm pretty well cleaned out.

" "Hullo?" "I say. He was not really listening." "Yes. So would mine. and you'd drive up to the house. After being sacked." Mike dozed off again. and presently you'd hear them come in." The bed creaked. and the servant would open the door. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. I expect. I don't know. you know." "Happen when?" "When you got home. Especially my pater." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. as it were. in order to give verisimilitude." "Everybody's would. "Hullo?" he said. and you'd go in. and you'd go out into the passage. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. and wait. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. My mater would be sick. Why?" "Oh. or to Australia. Then he spoke again." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say."Jackson. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. My sister would be jolly sick. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. I suppose. "My pater would be frightfully sick. And then you'd be sent into a bank. too. and all that. and then you'd have to hang about. or something. Jackson? I say. Have you got any sisters. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. But if you were. They might all be out. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. I meant. "Nobody. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" .

do you?" "What!" cried Mike." Mike pondered." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. he was just ordinary. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. already looking about him for further loans. I asked if you'd got any. where he was a natural genius. of other members of English public schools." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. though people whom he liked ." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes."Me--Jellicoe. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. "I say. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. He changed the subject." said Jellicoe eagerly. look out. But it's jolly serious. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. He had some virtues and a good many defects. Except on the cricket field. He was as obstinate as a mule. This thing was too much. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. You'll wake Smith. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure." "Any what?" "Sisters. "Do _what_?" "I say. Was it a hobby. He resembled ninety per cent.

and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. The thought depressed him. To begin with. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. Downing to come. He had. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude.could do as they pleased with him. stood in a class by itself. it had to be done. one good quality without any defect to balance it. there was the interview with Mr. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. Bob's postal order. who had a sensitive ear. but. Yesterday's performance. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. Mr. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. It was a particularly fine day. And Mr. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. which made the matter worse. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. where the issue concerned only himself. As Psmith had said. however. in his childhood. And when he set himself to do this. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. Young blood had been shed overnight. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. He was good-natured as a general thing. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. Downing and his house realised this. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. Finally. The great match had not been an ordinary match. Mr. Where it was a case of saving a friend. He was rigidly truthful. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. It was a wrench. . He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. He was always ready to help people. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. Downing was a curious man in many ways. in addition. which had arrived that evening. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. and had. That would probably be unpleasant. till Psmith. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. In addition to this. he had never felt stiffer in his life. he was in detention.

But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. Downing came down from the heights with a run. you must conceal your capabilities. No. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. Mr." concluded Mr.Mr. the speaker lost his inspiration. that prince of raggers. Mike. he was perfectly right. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. no. By the time he had reached his peroration. sir. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir." "Please. works it off on the boy. "You are surrounded. more elusive. For sarcasm to be effective. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. I have spoken of this before. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. That is to say. the user of it must be met half-way. So Mr. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. that would not be dramatic enough for you. of necessity. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. which was as a suit of mail against satire. As events turned out. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. the skipper. Downing. did with much success. When a master has got his knife into a boy. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. sir. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. since the glorious day when Dunster. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. It would be too commonplace altogether. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. And. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . You must act a lie. Macpherson. in their experience of the orator. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. at sea." "Well. when he has trouble with the crew. Just as. Far too commonplace!" Mr. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. Downing laughed bitterly. sir. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. he began in a sarcastic strain. "No. Which Mike. in the excitement of this side-issue.

To their left. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. puts his hands over his skull. The average person. "I shall have to be going in. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. "slamming about like that. zeal outrunning discretion. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips." said Mike. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. uttering sharp howls whenever. "or I'd have helped you over. "Awfully sorry. as they crossed the field. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. "Silly ass. is not a little confusing. man. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. ." "Awfully sorry. on hearing the shout. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at." said the pitch. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. Mike had strolled out by himself. you know. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. crouches down and trusts to luck. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy." "It's swelling up rather. The bright-blazered youth walked up. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened." "I'll give you a hand. a long youth. Jellicoe hopping. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it." said Dunster. and rather embarrassingly grateful." he groaned. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. Dunster. Jellicoe was cheerful. But I did yell. he prodded himself too energetically.

found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. man. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world." said Psmith." "I heard about yesterday. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon." . I'd no idea I should find him here." "Alas. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. Comrade Jackson. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. "were at a private school together. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. pained. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed." said Psmith. as he walked to the cricket field. Restore your tissues. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. and turning." stirring sight when we met. the darling of the crew. Well hit. "Return of the exile. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. Hullo! another man out. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe." said Dunster." said Dunster. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Is anything irritating you?" he added. I notice. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. Dunster gave dawg. "more. Mike. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. "You needn't be a funny ass." said the animal delineator. Before he got there he heard his name called." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. felt very much behind the times. Have a cherry?--take one or two. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. apply again. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. and when you have finished those. "More. The fifth ball bowled a man." said Dunster." sighed Psmith. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. faithful below he did his duty." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room." "Old Smith and I. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's.

dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. Hamlet had got it. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. I suppose. I like to feel that I am doing good." said Psmith. I shall get sacked. "I say. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. not so much physical as mental. but probably only after years of patient practice." "Don't dream of moving. "it's too late. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M." said Jellicoe gloomily. at last." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball.C. Personally. it'll keep till tea-time. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat.C. "I hadn't heard. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him." said Psmith to Mike." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. "Oh! chuck it. he felt disinclined for exertion. Mike stretched himself. I need some one to listen when I talk. man. Soliloquy is a knack." "I shall count the minutes. do you?" he said." "Has he?" said Psmith. "I mean." said Psmith. the sun was in my eyes. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. where he found the injured one in a parlous state.

or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. it's frightfully decent of you." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "I say." "It doesn't matter. for some mysterious reason. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. he was the wag of the village team. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. do you think you could." "He's the chap I owe the money to. look here. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. who looked . I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. Every village team. "I'm awfully sorry. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. are you certain----" "I shall be all right." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. "it can't be helped. "Oh." said Mike." "What absolute rot!" "But. Barley filled the post. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. only I got crocked." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. it's as easy as anything. has its comic man. with a red and cheerful face. it can. He was a large." said Jellicoe miserably." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol." "Yes. hang it!" he said. "I say."It's about that money." Jellicoe sat up. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. stout man." "I say. called Lower Borlock. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. so I couldn't move.

there was nothing strange in Mr." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. and if Jellicoe owed it. I think. I won't tell him. chuck it!" said Mike." he said. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. but it did not occur to him to ask. "it's locked up at night. Besides." "I'll get it from him. another. which was unfortunate. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. Probably in business hours After all." "All right. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. five pounds is a large sum of money. "You can manage that. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "I say. He took the envelope containing the money without question. but I had a key made to fit it last summer." said Jellicoe. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. "if I can get into the shed. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . I----" "Oh. and be full of the milk he was quite different. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. "I shall bike there.

and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. However. there you are. "Yes. too. The place was shut. Jackson was easy-going with his family. Psmith had yielded up the key. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. which. "I forget which. 'ullo! Mr. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. "Why. Jackson. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. "One of the Georges. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. Mike would have been glad of a companion. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. sir?" said the boots. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. Probably he would have volunteered to come. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. I've given you the main idea of the thing. also. Mr." said Psmith. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. which for the time being has slipped my memory. The advantage an inn has over a private house. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Mike did not want to be expelled. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. being wishful to get the job done without delay. for many reasons. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. of course. until he came to the inn.expulsion. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. communicating with the boots' room. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. by the cricket field. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. . with whom early rising was not a hobby. Still.

"Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. but rather for a solemn. Barley. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "Well. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. Jack."I want to see Mr. "Dear. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. Jack." "Oh. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. ." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. who was waiting patiently by. and wiped his eyes. and now he felt particularly fogged. of course. and had another attack. Then he collapsed into a chair. "What's up?" he asked." "I must see him. read it. dear!" chuckled Mr." Mr. "You can pop off. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. I've got some money to give to him. and requested him to read it." "The five--" Mr. perhaps. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. the five pounds. Jackson. which creaked under him. Barley opened the letter. "Oh dear!" he said. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. hoping for light. It was an occasion for rejoicing. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. Mr. if it's _that_--" said the boots. Mr. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. Barley. thankful. Jackson.

I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. I hope it is in time. Aberdeen terriers. it was signed "T." There was some more to the same effect. So I says to myself. G. "Why. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Mischief! I believe you. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. Jellicoe over this. took back the envelope with the five pounds. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. and as sharp as mustard. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter.--"I send the £5. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. the affair of old Tom Raxley. "he took it all in.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Barley's sense of humour. Love us!" Mr. Mr. Jane--she's the worst of the two. Mr. they are. 'I'll have a game with Mr." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. Barley slapped his thigh. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. but. Mike was . as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. always up to it. is another matter altogether. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. "DEAR MR. finishing this curious document. since. about 'ar parse five. Mike. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. in fact. but to be placed in a dangerous position. Barley slapped his leg. simply in order to satisfy Mr. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. which I could not get before. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Jellicoe.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. The other day. and rode off on his return journey." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. BARLEY." it ran. It would have been cruel to damp the man. last Wednesday it were. and the damage'll be five pounds.

of which the house was the centre. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. Outwood's front find this out for himself. however. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. that the voice had come. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. Downing's house. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. went out. On the first day of term. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. and locked the door. There were two gates to Mr. and gone to bed. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. As he did so. It was pitch-dark in the shed. and. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. The suddenness. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. Without waiting to discover what this might be. carried on up the water-pipe. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. after which he ran across to Outwood's. Sergeant Collard . This he accomplished with success. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. It was from the right-hand gate. his pursuer again gave tongue. With this knowledge. and through the study window. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. nearest to Mr. and as he wheeled his machine in. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. as Mike came to the ground. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. his foot touched something on the floor. Mike felt easier in his mind. and running.

He ran on. with the sergeant panting in his wake. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. shoot up the water-pipe once more. as Mike. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. . but. Meanwhile. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. "Is that you. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. Then the sound of footsteps returning. His first impression. he supposed--on the school clock. if that was out of the question. A sound of panting was borne to him. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. he sat on the steps. taking things easily. He would wait till a quarter past. this was certainly the next best thing. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. His thoughts were miles away. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. The other appeared startled. and so to bed. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. but he could not run. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. turned aside. His programme now was simple. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. he was evidently possessed of a key. He left his cover. Having arrived there. Then he would trot softly back. Focussing his gaze. They passed the gate and went on down the road. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. passing through the gate. disappeared as the runner. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. but Time. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. instead of making for the pavilion. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. looking out on to the cricket field. He would have liked to be in bed. turned into the road that led to the school.was a man of many fine qualities. The pursuer had given the thing up. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. that he had been seen and followed. this time at a walk. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. at Wrykyn. Like Mike. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. increasing his girth.

All that was wrong with MacPhee. The school clock struck the quarter. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. an apple. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. He was off like an . Downing. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. at a range of about two yards. conveyed to him by Adair. Now it happened that Mr. two ices. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. Adair?" The next moment Mr. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. was a very fair stomach-ache. But Mr." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. It came about. waiting for Adair's return. and Mr. was now standing at his front gate. aroused from his first sleep by the news. that Mike. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. One of the chaps in our house is bad. Downing emerged from his gate. was disturbed in his mind. He would be safe now in trying for home again. and a pound of cherries. Adair rode off. with a cry of "Is that you. three doughnuts. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. and washing the lot down with tea. and. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. So long. as a matter of fact. that MacPhee. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. whistling between his teeth. therefore." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. After a moment's pause." Mike turned away. He walked in that direction." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't."What are you doing out here. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. "I'm going for the doctor. half a cocoa-nut. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. Jackson?" "What are you.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

instead of running about the road." said Mr." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. "Dear me!" he said. was not in the best of tempers." Mr. deeply interested. he went straight to the headmaster. he wanted revenge. taking advantage of the door being open. no. whoever he was." "No. escaped and rushed into the road. The headmaster. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. Downing. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. "He--he--_what_. on the other hand.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. you think?" "I am certain of it. It was not his ." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. who. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. A big boy. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. you say?" "Very big. in spite of his strict orders. only. He received the housemaster frostily. He did not want to smile. Mr. did want to smile. I suppose not. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. Downing. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. Mr. "One of the boys at the school. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. He had a cold in the head. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. The Head. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident.

I think. had seen. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. It was Mr. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. It was only ." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. as far as I understand. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start." Mr. at the time. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely.. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. and passed it on to Mr. but without result. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. Downing was not listening. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. Downing. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. "Not actually in. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. who. with the exception of Johnson III. Downing was left with the conviction that. Outwood." Which he did. gave him a most magnificent start. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. and Fate. Mr. Outwood who helped him. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. and Mr. he would have to discover him for himself. if he wanted the criminal discovered. Oh yes. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. not to mention cromlechs. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. the rest was comparatively easy. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. Downing as they walked back to lunch. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Downing. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. broke into a wild screech of laughter. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on." "Impossible. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. Downing. of Outwood's. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. Downing. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily.

found himself at liberty." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. yer young monkey. yer. as a blind man could have told. which the latter was about to do unasked. "Oo-oo-oo. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. in order to ensure privacy. Dinner was just over when Mr. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. Oo-oo-oo. Mr. "Did you catch sight of his face. Outwood. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. and I doubles after 'im prompt. sergeant?" "No. I did. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. Downing stated his case. sir." he said. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. Downing. sir. sir. Having requested his host to smoke. he rushed forth on the trail. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. "I did." he said." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. Dook of Connaught. In due course Mr. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. he used to say. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. but it finishes in time. "Mr. sir--spotted 'im. I am.' he used to say. sir. ejecting the family. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. sergeant. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard." "Ah!" . sir. Downing arrived.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. Feeflee good at spottin'. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. sir.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. Regardless of the claims of digestion. "tells me that last night.

" Mr. sergeant. sir. is it not?" "Feeflee warm. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. while Sergeant Collard. "Good-afternoon. Good afternoon. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. ." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. to a very large extent. 'cos yer see."Bare-'eaded. The school plays the M. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. Downing rose to go." "Pray do not move. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. Very hot to-day. put a handkerchief over his face." "So do I. "Well. and dusted.C." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. "I will find my way out. rested his feet on the table. sir." added the sergeant. and slept the sleep of the just. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. with a label attached. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr." And Mr. I'm feeflee good at spottin'." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. but it was a dark night. rubbing the point in. sergeant. if he persisted in making so much noise.C. on Wednesday. sir. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. the result of luck. Outwood's house. sir. sir. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. having requested Mrs. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. and exhibited clearly. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead." he said. sergeant." "Good-afternoon to you." "I hope not. success in the province of detective work must always be.

We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. It is practically Stalemate. If you go to a boy and say. Mr. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. but. his sympathy for Dr. We should simply have hung around. having capped Mr. he thought. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. even and. But if ever the emergency does arise. requested that way peculiar to some boys. to detect anybody. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. now that he had started to handle his own first case. tight-lipped smiles. unless you knew who had really done the crime. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. as a matter of fact. There were. of course. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. there were clues lying all over the place. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. It certainly was uncommonly hard. if he only knew. only a limited number of boys in Mr. and leaves the next move to you. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. What he wanted was a clue. it would have complicated matters.The average man is a Doctor Watson. when Fate once more intervened." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. how--?" and all the rest of it. a junior member of his house. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . All these things passed through Mr. we should have been just as dull ourselves. As he brooded over the case in hand. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. shouting to him to pick them up. and his methods. Outwood's house." the boy does not reply. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. just as the downtrodden medico did. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. "Sir. but. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. this time in the shape of Riglett. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. but even if there had been only one other. Probably. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. saying: "My dear Holmes. Mr. Watson increased with every minute. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention.

The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. and made his way to the shed. blushed. Downing saw it. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. Paint. Then suddenly. And this was a particularly messy mess. "and be careful where you tread. leaving Mr. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. A foot-mark. In the first place." Riglett. but just a mess.bicycle from the shed. walking delicately through dry places. Watson a fair start. extracted his bicycle from the rack. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Red paint. then on his right. stood first on his left foot. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. Downing. and finally remarked. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. Much thinking had made him irritable. Then Mr. Mr. Riglett. Mr. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. "Pah!" said Mr. He felt for his bunch of keys. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Yoicks! There were two things. Downing. to be considered. Watson could not have overlooked. beneath the disguise of the mess. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. now coughed plaintively. Give Dr. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. A foot-mark! No less. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. however. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed." he said. It was the ground-man's paint. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. The sound recalled Mr. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. What he saw at first was not a Clue. Downing unlocked the door. and he is a demon at the game. Downing remembered. Downing. Downing to mundane matters. "Get your bicycle. Mr. The air was full of the pungent scent. he saw the clue. Your careful detective must consider everything.

on the right as you turn out into the road. He could get the ground-man's address from him. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. don't get up. Quite so. There's a barn just before you get to them. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. Oh." he said." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. I didn't go into the shed at all. "No. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. His book had been interesting. There are three in a row. You did not do that. He rapped at the door of the first." "I see." "Thank you. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. sir. Adair. I suppose. This was the more probable of the two contingencies." "It is spilt all over the floor. His is the first you come to. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. Thank you. sir. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. Adair. on returning to the house. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. I shall be able to find them. that there was paint on his boots. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. Things were moving. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. and the ground-man came out in . by the way. "Oh. sir. but I could show you in a second. Adair. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint.

Markby. Quite so. Tell me." "Of course. Outwood's house somewhere. Just as I thought. An excellent idea. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. yes. as was indeed the case. too. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. The fact is. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. sir? No. On the shelf at the far end. sir. He was hot on the scent now. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. no. sir. That is all I wished to know. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. The thing had become simple to a degree." Mr. It wanted a lick of paint bad. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. and spilt. sir. Markby. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. "Oh. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down." "On the floor?" "On the floor. sir. Markby. Picture. You had better get some more to-morrow. Makes it look shabby. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr.his shirt-sleeves. thank you. All he had to do was to go to Mr. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. Thank you. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. Regardless of the heat. with the result that it has been kicked over." "Do you want it. thank you. It was Sunday. ascertain its owner. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. blinking as if he had just woke up." "Just so. sir?" "No. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . and denounce him to the headmaster.

" "With acute pleasure. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. sir. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. sir?" "Do as I tell you. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. and said nothing. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground." murmured Psmith courteously. That is to say. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. Downing. "Or shall I fetch Mr." "'Tis well. no matter. as he passed. . He is welcome to them. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. Smith. "Enough of this spoolery. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." said Mike. I wonder! Still. What brings him round in this direction." snapped Mr. found Mr. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr." said Mike disparagingly. Downing arrived. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. "I was an ass ever to try it. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. I will be with you in about two ticks. "A warm afternoon. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. sir. "There's a kid in France. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. who had just entered the house. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. Outwood." said he. and Psmith. "What the dickens. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure." said Psmith." Mike walked on towards the field.

Smith. This is Barnes'. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles." said Psmith." Mr. "Show me the next dormitory." "I was only wondering. but went down to the matron's room. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. That's further down the passage. Smith. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Downing nodded. An idea struck the master. Downing with asperity. sir. panting slightly. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. sir. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. The observation escaped me unawares. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. "I beg your pardon. Downing paused. An airy room. Mr. "to keep your remarks to yourself. Mr. "The studies. Each boy." he cried. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. Downing rose." They moved on up the passage. crimson in the face with the exercise. "This. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. Mr. Smith?" "Ferguson's study." said Psmith. Psmith waited patiently by. The matron being out." Mr. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds.Psmith said no more. sir." he said. baffled. The master snorted suspiciously. sir. "Shall I lead the way. . Downing looked at him closely. I understand. Here we have----" Mr. Smith. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly." said Mr. "Excuse me. "Is this impertinence studied. opening a door. Downing stopped short. then moved on. "Here. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. "Are you looking for Barnes. sir. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. sir? No. "Aha!" said Psmith. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "I think he's out in the field." said Psmith. sir?" he asked. It is Mr. having examined the last bed.

Downing pondered. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. the distant hills----" Mr." Mr." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. sir." Mr. sir. sir. "No. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. sir. "This. sir. is it not. sir?" said Psmith. even in the dusk. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. Smith. Smith?" "Jackson. putting up his eyeglass. And." "Not at all. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. Downing suddenly started. sir. "The trees. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy."Whose is this?" he asked. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. "Have you no bars to your windows here. that Mr. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . The cricketer. "A lovely view." "Never mind about his cricket. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment." "Ah! Thank you." "I think. they go out extremely quickly. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." said Psmith. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. the field." said Mr. No. is mine and Jackson's. sir. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. rapping a door. sir. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. Smith. Downing with irritation.

As it was. he rushed straight on. our genial knife-and-boot boy. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. Edmund. that they would be in the basket downstairs." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs." Mr. sir. Downing then. Psmith leaned against the his life. Smith?" "Not one. he was certain." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund." said Psmith affably. trembling with excitement. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up." he said. Downing knelt on the floor beside . collects them. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind." said Mr. sir." Mr. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. If he had been wise. prompting these manoeuvres. Such a moment came to Mr. sir? He has them on. Downing looked up. and bent once more to his task. and straightened out the damaged garment. sir. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. and dumped is down on the study floor. I believe. I noticed them as he went out just now. sir--no. Mr. Psmith had noticed. "On the spot. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. "go and bring that basket to me here. But that there was something. Downing stooped eagerly over it. Mr. "Smith!" he said excitedly. he did not know. he would have achieved his object. Boots flew about the room. "His boots. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike." "Smith. "a fair selection of our various bootings. "I should say at a venture. by a devious and snaky route. at early dawn. It was a fine performance. sir. Downing. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. "We have here.

You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. "Ah. Psmith looked at it again.the basket. Leave the basket here. Downing. understood what before had puzzled him. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot." "Shall I carry it. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint." as he did so. of course." he said. boot-maker. Downing left the room." "Shall I put back that boot. carrying a dirty boot. After a moment Psmith followed him. "Indeed?" he said. when Mr. sir?" "Certainly not. rising. Downing had finished. "No. with an exclamation of triumph. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. . on the following day. and when." Mr. sir. Smith." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. I shall take this with me. You can carry it back when you return. The ex-Etonian." he said. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. Psmith took the boot. of course. "Yes. Downing reflected. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. Downing made his way. might be a trifle undignified. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. In his hand he held a boot. and. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. At last he made a dive. It was "Brown. then. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake." "Come with me. rose to his feet." he said. sir?" Mr. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. "I think it would be best. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. sir. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. Thither Mr. "That's the lot. He knew nothing. and doing so. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. one puts two and two together. The headmaster was in his garden. Smith. Bridgnorth. began to pick up the scattered footgear. "Put those back again.

. putting up his eyeglass." The headmaster interposed. But. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. er. Downing. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. There was no paint on this boot. "who was remarkably subject----" . Smith will bear me out in this. Downing was the first to break the silence. it was absolutely and entirely innocent." said the headmaster. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. It was a broad splash right across the toe. I saw it with my own eyes.. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest." he said vehemently. the cynosure of all eyes. These momentary optical delusions are. I fancy. is the--? Just so. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. sir. red or otherwise. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. Smith. "now let me so. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. Downing. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. Of any suspicion of paint. "You must have made a mistake. Just. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. sir. you say. Just Mr. Mr. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Mr. fixed stare.. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. "There was paint on this boot. putting on a pair of look at--This. not uncommon. Psmith."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence." "This is foolery. this boot with exactly where Mr." said Psmith chattily. Mr.

sir." said Mr. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house." said Psmith. "My theory. if I may----?" "Certainly." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. "Well. Downing shortly. "May I go now. Smith. I remember thinking myself. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness." said Psmith with benevolent approval. Shall I take the boot with me. Downing. Downing." "A sort of chameleon boot. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed." "You are very right. I can assure you that it does not brush off. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance." said the headmaster. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. "You had better be careful. streaming in through the window. sir?" ." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. "My theory. Smith. really. "What did you say. Mr. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. sir. with simple dignity. The goaded housemaster turned on him. Mr." "It is undoubtedly black now. Mr. "that is surely improbable. is that Mr."It is absurd." "I am reading it. sir. The afternoon sun. Smith. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute." "Exactly." said the headmaster. Smith?" "Did I speak. at the moment. The picture on the retina of the eye. he did not look long at the boot. sir. sir. had not time to fade. I cannot have been mistaken. Downing looked searchingly at him. Downing recollects. Downing." "Yes. sir?" said Psmith." murmured Psmith." "Really. If Mr." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday." said Psmith. "for pleasure. consequently.

"I wish to look at these boots again. he. "That thing. Psmith." he said. he reflected. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. The possibility."If Mr. "Sit down. was a most unusual sight. sir?" "Yes. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. Put it away. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. Smith. Downing. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. left the garden. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. however. Without brain. that ridiculous glass. Psmith and Mike. "Brain. and the latter. Smith. where are we? In the soup. the spectacle of Psmith running. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. Downing was brisk and peremptory. "Put that thing away. Downing appeared. with a sigh. were friends. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. and rose to assist him. and lock the cupboard. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. he raced down the road." he said to himself approvingly. and turning in at Outwood's gate. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. in fact the probability. hurried over to Outwood's. "I can manage without your help. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr." said the housemaster. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. The scrutiny irritated Mr." ." Psmith sat down again. On this occasion. if they had but known it. Outwood's at that moment saw what." he said. having included both masters in a kindly smile. laid down his novel. and Mr. every time. On arriving at the study. Mr. too. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket.

"Smith!" he said." "Open it. The floor could be acquitted. "Yes." "May I read." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir." "I was interested in what you were doing. patiently. and his chin on his hands. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. on sight. "Don't sit there staring at me. This cupboard. He rested his elbows on his knees. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. "Yes. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. Downing. and Mr. We do not often use it. He went through it twice." "I think you will find that it is locked. after fidgeting for a few moments." . He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. Possibly an old note-book. sir. read if you like. sir?" asked Psmith. "Just a few odd trifles. perhaps. A ball of string. There was very little cover there. Nothing of value or interest. Downing rapped the door irritably." Psmith took up his book again. Smith. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. sir?" "Yes." "I guessed that that was the reason. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. and looked wildly round the room. His eye roamed about the room. he stood up. but each time without success. sir. who." "Thank you." Mr. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common."Why. sir. lodged another complaint. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. sir. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. After the second search. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. of harbouring the quarry. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket." "Never mind. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. now thoroughly irritated.

Smith?" he inquired acidly." he said. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. Smith would be alone in the room. And he knew that. Outwood." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning." Mr. Downing paused." Mr. I am only the acting manager. I shall break open the door. And I know it's not Mr. Mr. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. But when it came to breaking up his furniture."Unlock it. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. Outwood. and ask him to be good . He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. you must get his permission. staring into vacancy. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. "Smith. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. sir. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. Jackson might have taken it. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through." Psmith got up. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with." "But where is the key. Downing stared. Then he was seized with a happy idea. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. Outwood." Mr. He also reflected. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. sir. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. amazed. "go and find Mr. sir. "Yes. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. sir." he said shortly. "I don't believe a word of it. perhaps----! On the other hand. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. If you wish to break it open. if Smith were left alone in the room. Downing thought for a moment.

who resumed the conversation. I ought to have remembered that before. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. Downing's voice was steely. sir." "one cannot. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. One cannot. "on a technical point. Mr. as who should say. 'Mr. If you will go to Mr. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. "I take my stand. ha. "Let us be reasonable." Psmith still made no move. I would fly to do your bidding. I say to myself. and come back and say to me. and explain to him how matters stand." he continued. But in Mr." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. "_Quick_. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. His manner was almost too respectful." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. "If you will let me explain. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. So in my case. If you pressed a button. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. sir. Outwood. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. as if he had been asked a conundrum. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. Smith?" Mr. sir. Outwood at once. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . to take a parallel case. "Do you intend to disobey me." he said. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master." "What!" "Yes. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. "Thwarted to me face. "Yes. I would do the rest.enough to come here for a moment. your word would be law." he said. Smith. Outwood. "Go and find Mr. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. however. 'Psmith." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. Outwood's house. Smith. Mr.

and took out the boot. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. sir. A shower of soot fell into the grate. When he returned. Outwood with spirit. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard." "My dear Outwood. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. Downing was in the study. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. sir. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. and with him Mr. Downing stalked out of the room. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face." why he should not do so if he wishes it. unlocked the cupboard. and washed off the soot. Smith?" asked Mr. Smith. he went to the window." added Psmith pensively to himself. You see my difficulty. "I have been washing my hands. Placing this in the cupboard. was fastened to the wall by an iron band." . Outwood. Downing wishes me to do. "Yes." added Mr. He noticed with approval. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. the latter looking dazed. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. Outwood. Downing sharply. there will be a boot there when you return. "Where have you been. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. Smith. "But. blackening his hand." snapped the sleuth. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. as the footsteps died away." "H'm!" said Mr." "I can assure you. Downing suspiciously. Mr." Mr. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. On a level with the sill the water-pipe." He took the key from his pocket. "Smith. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. at any rate." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. Outwood. "Very well. He went there.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. He tied the other end of the string to this. he re-locked the door. and. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. and thrust it up the chimney. Then he turned to the sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. and let the boot swing free. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. when it had stopped swinging. I shall not tell you again." said Mr.

Have you any objection?" Mr. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. round-eyed. sir. my dear Outwood." "If I must explain again. "I told you. Smith?" "I must have done. There's a sort of reddish glow just there." "So with your permission. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. Then. was open for all to view."Exactly. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. The cupboard." said Mr. Now." "He painted--!" said Mr. Outwood started. Downing?" interrupted Mr. At any rate." said Psmith." said Psmith. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Downing was examining his find. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. sir." "I wondered where that boot had got to. Downing shortly. approvingly. Mr. none at all. Outwood. "Why?" "I don't know why. and painted my dog Sampson red. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Psmith'a expression said. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. "This is not the boot. "Did you place that boot there." "It certainly appears." he added helpfully." he said. Last night a boy broke out of your house. do you understand?" Mr. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. "I told you. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" ." said Psmith sympathetically." he said. "This boot has no paint on it. Outwood. The wood splintered. Downing seized one of these." Mr. "We must humour him. He never used them. if you look at it sideways. he did. "Objection? None at all. "to be free from paint. and tore the boot from its resting-place. with any skeletons it might contain. my dear fellow. belonging to Mike. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. "I've been looking for it for days. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Let me see. Mr. glaring at Psmith. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. "You have touched the spot. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. Outwood with asperity.

Unfortunately. from earth to heaven. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. Mr. though." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. sir. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. and one could imagine him giving Mr. Smith. "We all make mistakes. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. but he ignored it. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. "I thought as much. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. SMITH?"] "Yes." he said. "Ah. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. Downing's eye. Outwood off his feet. my dear Watson. after all." argued Psmith. Downing laughed grimly. sir. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. A little more. Downing a good. "Fun!" Mr. sir. once more. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. baffled." said Psmith patiently. Smith?" he asked slowly. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. "WHAT!" . nearly knocking Mr. He bent down to "Dear me. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. hard knock. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. Outwood had the grate. he used the sooty hand." "It's been great fun. Smith." "No. Downing. sir." "You would have done better. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. You were not quite clever enough. "Animal spirits. not to have given me all this trouble." Mr." said Psmith. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. You have done yourself no good by it. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. It should have been done before. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. and a thrill went through him. But his brain was chance remark of Mr.") Mr." he said. He looked up. Apply them.

though one can guess roughly. you present a most curious appearance. and it had cut into his afternoon." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. but on the whole it had been worth it. just as he was opening his mouth. "My dear Downing. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. Outwood. Let me show you the way to my room. and hauled in the string. . "Soot!" he murmured weakly."Animal spirits. Really. at the back of the house." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. he took the count. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. for a man of refinement. It seemed to him that. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. "your face. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already." he said. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. until he should have thought out a scheme. Mr. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. most. It had been trying. worked in some mysterious cell. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. Downing had found the other. His fears were realised. far from the madding crowd. It would take a lot of cleaning. Edmund. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. You are quite black. soap. The boot-cupboard was empty. accordingly. It was the knock-out. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. "You will hear more of this. "I say you will hear more of it. Mr. for the time being. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. and sponges. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. the boot-boy. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. as he had said." Then he allowed Mr. he went up to the study again. intervened." he said. my dear fellow. of course. It is positively covered with soot. You must come and wash it. quite covered. Smith. sir. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. and it was improbable that Mr. Having restored the basket to its proper place. Psmith went to the window. at about the same height where Mr." said Psmith." What Mr. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. positively. sir. In the language of the Ring. he saw. * * * * * When they had gone. He went down beneath it. For. Nobody would think of looking there a second time.

thank goodness. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. There is no real reason why. to be gained from telling Mike." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. had no views on the subject. Mr. and then said. It was not altogether forgetfulness. if he does. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. the thing creates a perfect sensation. So Psmith kept his own counsel. "Jones. there's the bell. Mr. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are." he said. which one observes naturally and without thinking. should he prefer them. Edmund. "Great Scott. Jackson. for instance. "Well. But. Boys say. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. Jackson. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say." Edmund turned this over in his mind.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. sir. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. At a school." as much as to say. Psmith was no exception to the rule. "One? What's the good of that." "Well. Edmund. he should not wear shoes. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. dash it. if the day is fine. I mean--Oh. So in the case of boots. he thought. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. "'Ere's one of 'em. "I may have lost a boot. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. but. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found." replied Edmund to both questions. There was nothing. "No. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. I can still understand sound reasoning.

He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. and the subsequent proceedings. and the form.. They cannot see it. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. was taken unawares. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. Downing's lips. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. stiffening like a pointer. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. On one occasion." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. Downing who gave trouble. yes. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. Mike." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. abuse. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. he floundered hopelessly.. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. Downing. accordingly. sir. It was only Mr. leaning back against the next row of desks. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. he told him to start translating.. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. lines. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. with a few exceptions. or else to pull one of them off. as he usually did. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. turning to Stone. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. "I have lost one of my boots. of a vivid crimson. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. but they feel it in their bones. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. Mr." mechanically. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. as worms. called his name. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. had regarded Mike with respect. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. Mr. He said "Yes. looking on them. "Yes. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. Satire." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. But. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. and finally "That will do. Jackson?" "Pumps. Stone. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. Then. sir?" said Mike.

The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. came to a momentous decision. Downing feel at that moment. however. As a rule. Mike himself. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. Mr. that searching test of cricket keenness. Rushing about on an empty stomach. compared with Mike's. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. and sped to the headmaster. Mike's appearance in shoes. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. jumping on board. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. he gathered up his gown. and the first American interviewer. "Wal. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr.returned. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. it is no joke taking a high catch. and no strain." said Stone. match on the Wednesday. said. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. I mean. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. consequently. to wit. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. Downing's mind was in a whirl. in the cool morning air. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school.C. with the explanation that he had lost a boot." said Robinson. and all that sort of thing." . Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's.C. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. which nobody objects to. completed the chain." "I shouldn't wonder. "It's all rot. They played well enough when on the field. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. yawning and heavy-eyed. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. "I don't intend to stick it." "Personally. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. His case was complete." said Stone. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. gnawing his bun. Until the sun has really got to work. sir. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. In view of the M.

wherever and however made. with a scratch team. he'd better find somebody else. You two must buck up. Mr. had no information to give. who his right. Which was not a great help. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. He can't play the M. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. Stone and Robinson felt secure. leaving the two malcontents speechless." he said. questioned on the subject. Taking it all round. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay." At this moment Adair came into the shop. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. Besides." "I don't think he will kick us out. "He can do what he likes about it." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice.C. "at six. As a rule he had ten minutes with the ." "I mean. but in reality he has only one weapon. unless he is a man of action. after all? Only kick us out of the team. "Let's. it's such absolute rot. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. of course. what can he do. you know. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. practically helpless."Nor do I. Stone was the first to recover." "Nor do I. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives." said Robinson. "Rather. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. Barnes. With the majority." And he passed on. And I don't mind that. and the chance of making runs greater." Their position was a strong one.C." "Yes. The result of all this was that Adair. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. You were rotten to-day. found himself two short." "All right. The majority. as they left the shop. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. and. then he finds himself in a difficult position. consequently. Barnes was among those present. either. If he does. the keenness of those under him. At breakfast that morning thought. Downing." he said briskly. are easily handled.

Adair!" "Don't mention it. "Hullo. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. "I know you didn't. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. . which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. said nothing. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal." said Stone. To-day. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. We didn't give it the chance to. physical or moral. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. who." he said. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. "You were rather fed-up. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone." Adair's manner became ominously calm. not having seen the paper. "We didn't turn up. who left the lead to Stone in all matters." Robinson laughed appreciatively. Many captains might have passed the thing over. "We decided not to. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. He resolved to interview the absentees. I suppose?" "That's just the word. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold.daily paper before the bell rang. however." "Sorry it bored you. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. "Sorry. Stone spoke." "It didn't. He never shirked anything." "Oh?" "Yes.

"You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. Don't be late. We'll play for the school all right. "Right. Adair had pushed the table back. "It's no good making a row about it. and was standing in the middle of the open space." said the junior partner in the firm. So we're all right. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. if you like." Stone intervened. you can kick us out of the team. Of course. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." said Stone." "Good." said Adair quietly. "You cad. "There's no joke. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. Shall we go on?" . Adair." "You can turn out if you feel like it. as you seem to like lying in bed. but we don't care if you do. you are now. We've told you we aren't going to." said Robinson. Robinson?" asked Adair. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." "You don't think there is? You may be right." "Don't be an ass. Nor Robinson?" "No." said Stone."What's the joke." "Well. "I wasn't ready. but he said it without any deep conviction." "What!" "Six sharp. I think you are. He was up again in a moment." "That'll be a disappointment. with some haste." "That's only your opinion. All the same." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. "I was only thinking of something. I'll give you till five past six. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. and knocked him down. You won't find me there. You must see that you can't do anything. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. you're going to to-morrow morning. Adair.

all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going ." "Good. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. I don't know if he's still there. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. "Thanks. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. He was not altogether a coward." said Adair." "I'll go and see. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show.Stone dashed in without a word. but he was cooler and quicker. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. How about you. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. "All right. "Thanks." he said hastily. and it did not take him long to make up his mind." said Stone." said Adair. even in a confined space. "I'll turn up. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain." Stone made no reply. "You don't happen to know if he's in. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair." said Adair. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. and he knew more about the game. "All right. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. But science tells. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair.

had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. that Adair. In school cricket one good batsman. It might have made all the difference. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. said Strachan.. A broken arm. was off. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. In fact.C. when his resentment was at its height.C. If only he could have been there to help. "If you ask my candid opinion. Since this calamity. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. And it was at this point. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. Which. fortunately. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. entered the room. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. returned with a rush. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. looking up from his paper. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. * * * * * Psmith. and went on reading. The Ripton match. was hard lines on Ripton.on below stairs. including Dixon." he said. Mike mourned over his suffering school. the fast bowler. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. led by Mike's brother Reggie. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. Psmith was the first to speak. The Incogs. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. Altogether. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. This was one of them. everything had gone wrong. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. He's had a . which had been ebbing during the past few days. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. wrote Strachan. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. The M.

" . "is right." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. We----" "Buck up. I bet Long Jack. is waiting there with a sandbag. That is Comrade Jackson. Stone chucked it after the first round." he sighed. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. "We weren't exactly idle. This is no time for loitering. Adair. "has led your footsteps to the right place. I thought that you and he were like brothers. Promptitude. "Surely. We must be strenuous." said Adair grimly." said Psmith. We would brood. We must hustle." Psmith turned away. "It didn't last long. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. Shakespeare. "There are lines on my face." said Adair. too.C. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. "I'll tell you in a minute. "I'm not the man I was. Despatch. sitting before you. knave. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. Oh. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. which might possibly be made dear later." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour." said Mike." he said. after a prolonged inspection. Adair was looking for trouble." "That. but it was pretty lively while it did." said Adair. Care to see the paper. It won't take long." "Fate." said Psmith approvingly. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school." "What do you want?" said Mike. I'll none of thee.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. The fact that the M. the Pride of the School.C. We must Do It Now." Mike got up out of his chair. dark circles beneath my eyes. He could not quite follow what all this was about. Leave us. "Certainly. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. go thee." said Psmith. the poacher. For some reason. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. Speed is the key-note of the present age.

" Mike remained silent." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. Mike said nothing.?" he asked curiously. So is Robinson. "I get thinner and thinner. "So are you." Mike took another step forward. Adair moved to meet him.C." "I don't think so." said Psmith regretfully.C.C." replied Adair with equal courtesy. "I am. rather." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. turning from the glass. "I'm going to make you." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. However.C. isn't it?" "Very. "Oh?" said Mike at last." added Adair. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. He said he wouldn't. You aren't building on it much. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. There was an electric silence in the study. to-morrow. "are a bit close together. are you?" said Mike politely. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. and Adair looked at Mike. "it's too late to alter that now. ." "My eyes. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. turning to Mike. and I want you to get some practice. I know.said Adair. "What makes you think I shall play against the M." he added philosophically." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. stepped between them. so we argued it out. and in that second Psmith. Mike looked at Adair. He's going to all right.

against the direct advice of Doctor Watts."Get out of the light." he said. with a minute rest in between. Smith. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. But school fights. what would have been. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. producing a watch. If Adair had kept away and used his head." said Mike. hates the other. Dramatically. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. The latter was a clever boxer. only a few yards down the road. Time. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. then. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. . Directly Psmith called "time. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. I lodge a protest. however much one may want to win. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life." After which. It was this that saved Mike." he said placidly. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. Up to the moment when "time" was called. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. On the present occasion. "The rounds. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. "My dear young friends. In a boxing competition." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. If you really feel that you want to scrap. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. and are consequently brief and furious. as a rule. one does not dislike one's opponent. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. "will be of three minutes' duration. a mere unscientific scramble. nothing could have prevented him winning. Are you ready. without his guiding hand. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. I suppose you must. where you can scrap all night if you want to. one was probably warmly attached to him. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. In a fight each party. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well.

He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. and he was all but knocked out. however. that there was something to be said for his point of view. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. so he hit out with all his strength. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. that Adair was done. At the same time. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see.As it was. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. he knew. The Irish blood in him. after all. He rose full of fight. now rendered him reckless. Then he lurched forward at Mike. This finished Adair's chances. Mike had the greater strength. which would do him no earthly good. but with all the science knocked out of him. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. The feat presented that interesting person. coming forward. I shouldn't stop. "but exciting. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. He got up slowly and with difficulty." "Is he hurt much. the cricketer. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. Jackson. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. He went in at Mike with both hands. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. ." said Psmith. "_He's_ all right. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. and. If it's going to be continued in our next. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. I'll look after him. Psmith saw. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. was strange to him. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. Mike Jackson." said Psmith. the deliverer of knock-out blows. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. as anybody looking on would have seen. There was a swift exchange of blows." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. and then Adair went down in a heap. Mike could not see this. thirty seconds from the start. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. You go away and pick flowers. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. In the excitement of a fight--which is. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. We may take that. "Brief. do you think?" asked Mike. if I were you. he threw away his advantages. I think. but Jackson. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams.

" "He's all right. and drained the bad blood out of him. in fact. had the result which most fights have." said Mike indignantly. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. As a start." he said. We have been chatting." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. to return to the point under discussion. but every one to his taste. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. He had come to this conclusion. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. You didn't. However." said Mike. not afraid of work. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. after much earnest thought. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. It shook him up.' game. He's not a bad cove. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. "Sha'n't play. There was a pause. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. of course?" "Of course not. My eloquence convinced him. It's not a bad idea in its way." continued Psmith.C. to a certain extent. why not?" . if possible. Jones. before. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him.C. "Look here. Where.The fight. when Psmith entered the study. Psmith straightened his tie. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words.

bar rotting." "Quite right. You said you only liked watching it. "my secret sorrow. However----" . that I had found a haven of rest. Smith. But when the cricket season came. and polishing it with his handkerchief. _I_ am playing." said Psmith. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. where was I? Gone. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. I do. and drifted with the stream. when I came here. Comrade Jackson. little by little. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. and after a while I gave up the struggle. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. but it was not to be." "----Dismiss it. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. I fought against it." "No. I did think. but it was useless. but look here. I hate to think. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. "You're what? You?" "I. "If your trouble is. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. Last year." Mike stared." said Psmith. I turn out to-morrow." "You're rotting." said Psmith. And in time the thing becomes a habit." "You wrong me. breathing on a coat-button. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. What Comrade Outwood will say. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered.

But. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. Close the door gently after you. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow." "Not a bad scheme." "I say. You won't have to. as the storm. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. Then in a flash Mike understood. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. wavering on the point of playing for the school. He's sprained his wrist. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. A moment later there was a continuous patter. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. "By Jove. And they had both worked it off.C. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. Adair won't be there himself. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. "if you're playing. Psmith whimsically. broke in earnest. If Psmith. I'll play. Anyhow. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. and ran back to Outwood's. the recalcitrant. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. "there won't be a match at all . He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. it went." he said. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven." "That's all right. which had been gathering all day. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. but he read Psmith's mind now. Downing's and going to Adair's study. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. Since the term began. Mike turned up his coat-collar. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn." he said to himself. A spot of rain fell on his hand. therefore. He was not by nature intuitive.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. and here was Psmith. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. I'll go round." On arriving at Mr.C. but useless to anybody who values life. He's not playing against the M. It's nothing bad. I don't know. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. "At this rate. Here was he. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. I'll write a note to Adair now.

" Another silence. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. Adair fished out his watch. "About nine to. if one didn't hurry. to show what it can do in another" "I hate having to hurry over to school." "Yes. yes. We've got plenty of time. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. Might be three." "Beastly nuisance when one does. met Adair at Downing's gate." * * * * * When the weather decides." "Yes. So do I. . crawl miserably about the field in couples. after behaving well for some weeks." "Oh. in the gentle. Three if one didn't hurry. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. with discoloured buckskin boots. while figures in mackintoshes." "So do I. They walked on in silence. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. isn't it?" said Mike. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. I should think. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. "It's only about ten to." "Beastly. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. it does the thing thoroughly." "I often do cut it rather fine. Mike. "Right ho!" said Adair. These moments are always difficult." "Good. shouldn't you?" "Not much more." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. and then the rain began again." "Yes. damp and depressed. though.

" said Adair. I say. I say." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "Oh. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." Silence again. "awfully sorry about your wrist. that's all right." "Yes. It looks pretty bad. thanks. "Five to. no.." "Oh." "Rummy. "I don't know." "Oh." said Mike." "Good." ." "I bet you anything you like you would.." "What's the time?" asked Mike.." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. rather not." "Yes. rot." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year." "I bet you I shouldn't.. we ought to have a jolly good season."Beastly day. scowling at his toes." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. It was my fault. doesn't it?" "Rotten. Smith turning out to be a cricketer.. Less.. You'd have smashed me anyhow. just before the match. no. that's all right.. no. rot. "I say. Adair produced his watch once more. with his height. Jolly hard luck. probably. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully.. It was only right at the end." "We've heaps of time.." "Oh." "Oh. "Rotten.

" "Of course. and come to a small school like this. He eluded the pitfall. "What rot!" he said. "Yes." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. ." "No."Yes. I wouldn't have done it. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea." "No. after the way you've sweated. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across." "I didn't want to play myself. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. I know. for the second time in two days. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. Everybody's as keen as blazes." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. no. heaps." "He never even asked me to get him a place. fortunately. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. I know." "Of course not. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. as it were: for now. on the Chinese principle." "Oh." Adair shuffled awkwardly. "I say. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. rotten little hole. not playing myself. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. even if he had. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. really. Mike. It was only for a bit." "It was rotten enough. no. Smith told me you couldn't have done. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. that's all right. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. isn't it?" or words to that effect. So they ought to be.

Dash this rain. now that you and Smith are turning out. till the interval. I don't know which I'd least soon be. when you get to know him. anyhow. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. I wish we could play. and the bowling isn't so bad. You see. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. they're worse. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith." . We sha'n't get a game to-day. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. We'd better be moving on. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. I've never had the gloves on in my life. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. My jaw still aches. They probably aren't sending down much of a team." "It might clear before eleven. They'd simply laugh at you. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. They began to laugh. If only we could have given this M. We've got math. "if that's any comfort to you. so I don't see anything of him all day. which won't hurt me. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. "_You_ were all right. we'd walk into them. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record."I've always been fairly keen on the place. there's the bell. Downing or a black-beetle. I'm not sure that I care much. There's quite decent batting all the way through." Mike stopped. and hang about in case.C. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present." said Mike. and really. lot a really good hammering." "I don't know that so much. Hullo." he said. because I'm certain.C." "You've loosened one of my front teeth." said Adair. of anything like it. I must have looked rotten. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn." "He isn't a bad sort of chap." "All right. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. with you and Smith. "I can't have done. who doesn't count." "What! They wouldn't play us. As you're crocked. You'd better get changed. with a grin. "By jove." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. then. As for the schools. I never thought of it before. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. at the interval. we've got a jolly hot lot.

who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. For the moment I am baffled. they would. the captain.'" ." said Psmith. At least. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. Meanwhile. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. The whisper flies round the clubs. "this incessant demand for you. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. wandering back to the house. approaching Adair. if you like. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. regretfully agreed. M. he worked at it both in and out of school. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning." he said at last. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. After which the M. I'm pretty sure they would. and the first Sedleigh _v_.C. "By Jove. captain. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. leaving Psmith. and went off. So they've got a vacant date. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. it seemed. You come and have a shot. without looking up. The messenger did not know. If he wants you to stop to tea. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. match was accordingly scratched.C. I had a letter from Strachan. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. was agitated. with a message that Mr. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. Mike. And they aren't strong this year. That's the worst of being popular. The two teams. Downing. had not confided in him. 'Psmith is baffled. and would be glad if Mike would step across. "A nuisance. We'll smash them." said Psmith. Mike and Psmith. To which Adair. after hanging about dismally. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type." Mike changed quickly. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision.C."Yes. yesterday. Mr.C. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. edge away. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed.

he's been crawling about. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. "I didn't. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. pretty nearly. . or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. "Which it was. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't." said Mike warmly. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. As far as I can see. by the way?" asked Psmith." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. He as good as asked me to. "No. Give you a nice start in life." "Evidence!" said Mike. I believe he's off his nut. "My dear man." "_Did_ you." "He thinks I did it." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. The thing's a stand-off. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. But. dash it. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. you know all about that."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. "Me." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." "I know." said Psmith." said Mike shortly.

Be a man. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. That's how he spotted me." said Psmith. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. and glared at it." "It is true. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. kneeling beside the fender and groping." said Psmith. Psmith listened attentively." Psmith sighed. so he thinks it's me. and it's nowhere about. It is red paint." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion." "Yes. . I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint.Why. right in the cart. But what makes him think that the boot.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. Of course I've got two pairs. 'tis not blood. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER." said Psmith. "Comrade Jackson. but one's being soled. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather." said Mike." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. meaning to save you unpleasantness. It must have been the paint-pot. and is hiding it somewhere. with a dull. "Say on!" "Well. it was like this. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. you were with him when he came and looked for them. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show." "I don't know what the game is. if any. "your boot. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. and reach up the chimney. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily." he said mournfully. In my simple zeal. I have landed you. "It _is_. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. Get it over. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. sickening thud. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. That's what makes it so jolly awkward.

I suppose not. I _am_ in the cart. You had better put the case in my hands. The worst of it is. too. too. I take it. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. I can't. "It _is_ a tightish place." he admitted. and--well. by any chance. in connection with this painful affair. so to speak. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." "Well. "Not for a pretty considerable time. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. and try to get something out of me. or some rot." said Mike. You see." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place." "Sufficient. I will think over the matter. he must take steps. that he is now on the war-path. "quite sufficient. and the chap who painted Sammy. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. they're bound to guess why. then. in a moment of absent-mindedness. I hadn't painted his bally dog. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned." "I suppose not. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. I shall get landed both ways." "Possibly. This needs thought. and he said very well. Masters are all whales on confession. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. collecting a gang. was it?" "Yes." said Psmith. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. are the same. when Mike had finished. and I said I didn't care. and forgot all about it? No? No. you see. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean." asked Psmith."This. That was why I rang the alarm bell. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. inspecting it with disfavour. then." "What exactly." Psmith pondered. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me." he said. that was about all. Downing chased me that night. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. taking it all round. I say. you can't prove an alibi." . he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. You never know. If I can't produce this boot. So." "_He'll_ want you to confess. which was me. I hope you'll be able to think of something." "Probably.

having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. Jackson will be with him in a moment. "_You're_ all right. Don't go in for any airy explanations. "Tell him to write." With which expert advice. caught sight of him. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you." he added. Jackson. sir. sir. He was examining a portrait of Mr. Downing which hung on the wall. "Tell Willie. "They now knock before entering. He was. passed away. The postman was at the door when he got there. when the housemaster came in. "Well." A small boy. who had just been told it was like his impudence. and requested to wait. it seemed. "Is Mr. at the same dignified rate of progress. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. who had leaned back in his chair. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "See how we have trained them. . There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. Stout denial is the thing. "Don't go. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. "An excellent likeness. answered the invitation. Thence." said Mr." said Psmith. I say." "I told you so." said Psmith. Simply stick to stout denial.There was a tap at the door." he said." said Mike to Psmith." said Psmith. Smith. "that Mr. he allowed Mike to go on his way." said Psmith encouragingly. Psmith stood by politely till the postman." Mike got up. Downing. and." suggested Psmith. wrapped in thought." He turned to the small boy. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. Downing shortly. when Psmith. "Oh. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting." "Ha!" said Mr. "Just you keep on saying you're all right." The emissary departed. You can't beat it. "All this is very trying. heaved himself up again. Come in. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. He had not been gone two minutes. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall.

except possibly the owner of the dog." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. "Mr. Jackson. Mr." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. Downing to see you. what it got was the dramatic interruption." said Mr. sir. who committed the--who painted my dog. Masters. but anybody. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. especially if you really are innocent. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. The atmosphere was heavy. it was not Jackson. as he sat and looked at Mike. would have thought it funny at first. and the headmaster. A voice without said. Smith. "but----" "Not at all. "I would not have interrupted you. The headmaster was just saying. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. unsupported by any weighty evidence. It was a boy in the same house. sir. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. do not realise this. After the first surprise. as a rule. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. It was a kid's trick. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in." said Psmith. but boys nearly always do. Downing."I did it. "No. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. As for Psmith . Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. Downing had laid before him. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. felt awkward. "I do not think you fully realise. As it happened. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. Downing. He could not believe it.

what did you wish to say. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. "Certainly." "No. looking at Mr. certainly. sir. who was nodding from time to time. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. "May I go. "Oh. Mike simply did not believe it. sir?" he said. if possible." "Yes. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. hardly listening to what Mr. when again there was a knock. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. sir. Adair. Downing. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. "Smith!" said the headmaster." He had reached the door." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. "Come in. Jackson. no. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. with calm triumph. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. if you are going back to your house.having done it. Downing----" "It was Dunster. tell Smith that I should like to see him. "Ah. It was Adair. Mike felt. sir. Adair." he said. sir. and er--. as if he had been running." said the Head. Well. Mr. Downing was saying. He sat there. "Adair!" . Downing leaped in his chair. Mr. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Downing." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. This was bound to mean the sack. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. So Mr. If Psmith had painted Sammy. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. or even thankful. we know--." said Mr." said the headmaster. "Yes.

had played a mean trick on him." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. sir. I'd better tell Mr." "_Laughed!_" Mr. "Yes. for a rag--for a joke. despite the evidence against him. Well." said the headmaster. Why Dunster. It was a . "But Adair. too. if Dunster had really painted the dog. was guiltless. Downing's voice was thunderous. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. sir. I tried to find Mr. who." "Smith told you?" said Mr." Mr. that Psmith.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. Downing. but he wasn't in the house. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. He has left the school. was curious. sir. His brain was swimming. of all people? Dunster. sir. the dog. But that Adair should inform him. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. Downing at once. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. He stopped the night in the village." "I see. Then I met Smith outside the house. perhaps. two minutes after Mr. sir. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. he remembered dizzily. "Yes. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. sir. but not particularly startling. sir. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. "Adair!" "Yes. He rolled about. And why. in the words of an American author. Downing had gone over to see you. Downing snorted. sir. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. should be innocent. and he told me that Mr. That Mike. and that. Downing. sir. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. had left the school at Christmas.

while it lasted. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. sir." said Mr. sir. though sure of his welcome. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. He arrived soon after Mr. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure.foolish. Downing. pressing a bell. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. . feels that some slight apology is expected from him. sir?" "Sit down." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. saying that he would wait." said the headmaster. He was cheerful. as you would probably wish to see him shortly." he said. "Mr. "It is still raining." "Another freak of Dunster's. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him." said Mr. as the butler appeared. Adair. sir. sir. Smith. "kindly go across to Mr. the silence was quite solid." "H'm. sir. but. Downing." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner." he observed. The door was opened. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr." "Thank you. Barlow. Smith. Ask him to step up." "If you please. Smith is waiting in the hall. "You wished to see me. "I shall write to him. Mr." "The sergeant. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. It was not long. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. Barlow. I suppose. discreditable thing to have done." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. Outwood's house. He gave the impression of one who." "In the hall!" "Yes. sir. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. If he did not do it. but slightly deprecating. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men." said the headmaster." "Yes.

Then he went on. "The craze for notoriety. when a murder has been committed." proceeded Psmith placidly. sir. Psmith bent forward encouragingly." he said. "Er--Smith. let us say. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. sir. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. "Smith. sir. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. "Er--Smith. "Smith. "how frequently.Mr. Downing might I trouble--? Adair." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair." "What!" cried the headmaster." he replied sadly. do you remember ever having had." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. as a child." . Downing burst out. there was silence. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. When he and Psmith were alone." "Yes. Smith--" began the headmaster. but have you--er." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. He paused again. "Smith. Jackson. "The curse of the present age. sir." "But. "It is remarkable." He made a motion towards the door. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. Mr. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson.

but he said nothing.." He held out his hand. For the moment." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. the proper relations boy and--Well. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. sir. You think. if you do not wish it. "What's he done?" "Nothing. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. sir. then." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Of course. Good-night. We had a very pleasant chat. Smith. tell nobody." said Adair. "You _are_ the limit. "but. "Good-night."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list.. "Of course. "It was a very wrong thing to do." "Well. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him." said Psmith." . never mind that for the present. let me hear what you wish to course. "Not a bad old sort. at last.." said Psmith cheerfully. Smith. You are a curious boy. This is strictly between ourselves." There was a pause. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. of course." said Psmith meditatively to himself. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. Smith. of sometimes apt to forget. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. sir.. Downing's dog. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. sir. We later. Smith. "By no means a bad old sort. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves." said the headmaster hurriedly. quite so. it was like this. sir----" Privately." said the headmaster. as he walked downstairs." said Psmith.." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. and then I tore myself away. "Well. "Well?" said Mike. I shall. That was the whole thing.. sir. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting.

all the same. I believe you did. Psmith thanked him courteously. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. when you see him." said Mike suddenly." "Well. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. There is a certain type of . Adair." Psmith moaned. I should think they're certain to. I'm surprised at you." said Mike." said Adair. "And it was jolly good of you. you're a marvel. In a way one might have said that the game was over." "And give Comrade Downing. "My dear Comrade Jackson. and that Sedleigh had lost." "Well. for it was a one day match. too. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. "my very best love." said he. and Wrykyn." * * * * * "I say. They walked on towards the houses." said Adair. Psmith. "Good-night. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is." said Mike. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. "They've got a vacant date. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. I hope the dickens they'll do it." "Oh." said Psmith." Psmith's expression was one of pain."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. "By the way." said Mike obstinately. who had led on the first innings. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. You make me writhe. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. chuck it. "you wrong me." "What's that?" asked Psmith.

with Barnes not out sixteen. with the exception of Adair. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. the bulwark of the side. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. The team listened. from time immemorial. Unless the first pair make a really good start. several of them. Sedleigh had never been proved. that Wrykyn were weak this season.C. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. whatever might happen to the others. July the twentieth. Experience counts enormously in school matches. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. playing back to half-volleys. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. Whereas Wrykyn. and. Stone. Robinson. and from whom. the team had been all on the jump. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. declined to hit out at anything. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. this in itself was a calamity. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. but then Wrykyn cricket. Mike. a collapse almost invariably ensues. The weather had been bad for the last week. It was likely to get worse during the day. Psmith. assisted by Barnes. He had had no choice but to take first innings. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. so Adair had chosen to bat first. with his score at thirty-five. and . Sedleigh. on Mike's authority. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. as he did repeatedly. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. Ten minutes later the innings was over. had played inside one from Bruce. for seventy-nine. and the others. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked.C. Wrykyn had then gone in. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. and Mike. but were not comforted. It was useless for Adair to tell them. as a rule. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. the Wrykyn slow bowler. and he had fallen after hitting one four. Adair did not suffer from batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. He had an enormous reach. crawled to the wickets. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. and were clean bowled. and he used it.

for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. As Mike reached the pavilion. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. all but a dozen runs. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. they felt. and which he hit into the pavilion. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. skied one to Strachan at cover. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. as they were crossing over. and the collapse ceased. restored to his proper frame of mind. proceeded to play with caution. So Drummond and Rigby. and lashed out stoutly. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. He treated all the bowlers alike. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. Adair bowled him. Seventeen for three. having another knock. at fifteen. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. and he was convinced that. and after him Robinson and the rest. Psmith got the next man stumped. which was Psmith's. who had taken six wickets. was getting too dangerous. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. But. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. with an hour all but five minutes to go. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. who had just reached his fifty. if they could knock Bruce off. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. The deficit had been wiped off. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. his slows playing havoc with the tail. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. It doesn't help my . had never been easy. Adair declared the innings closed. And they had hit. but it was a comfort. and refused to hit at the bad. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. They were playing all the good balls. Changes of bowling had been tried. A quarter past six struck. when Psmith was bowled. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. And when. And when Stone came in. But Adair and Psmith. As is usual at this stage of a match. two runs later. especially Psmith. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. at any rate. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. The time was twenty-five past five. helped by the wicket. their nervousness had vanished. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. the next pair. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough.

" "Yes. There were twenty-five minutes to go. playing against Wrykyn. hitting out. and five wickets were down. Adair's a jolly good sort. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. collapsed uncompromisingly. the great thing. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. got to it as he was falling. "Still." "He bowled awfully well. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. and Mike. and the tail. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. Sedleigh was on top again. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. he's satisfied. As a matter of fact. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. They can get on fixtures with decent . Incidentally. when Adair took the ball from him. Still. was a shade too soon. I'm glad we won. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. I shall have left. and chucked it up. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. you see. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. Wrykyn will swamp them. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. "I say. That's what Adair was so keen on. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. is to get the thing started. diving to the right. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. Adair will have left. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. because they won't hit at them. After that the thing was a walk-over.leg-breaks a bit. "he was going about in a sort of trance. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. "I feel like a beastly renegade." "I suppose they will." said Psmith. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl." said Psmith. and it'll make him happy for weeks. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. Five minutes before. discussing things in general and the game in particular." said Mike. The batsman." "When I last saw Comrade Adair.

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